Podophobia, the irrational fear of feet, is an affliction affecting approximately one in 1,000 people, whereby a person experiences an extremely negative and upsetting reaction when looking at, touching or being near feet. Whilst psychological research into podophobia is scarce, it is thought that the fear arises from negative events and childhood memories, or develops as a result of anxiety-based and genetic conditions.

What Does Podophobia Mean?

Podophobia can present itself in a range of intensities. Those with very severe podophobia may be unable to look at their own feet and it is not uncommon for podophobes to wear socks and keep their feet covered – even whilst showering or bathing.

Foot phobia can include all levels of foot interactions – from taking precautions against accidentally glancing at feet or seeing them in the media, to a fear of touching other people’s feet or having other people touch their feet, podophobia affects sufferers in a range of different ways, none of which are uncommon among people with foot phobia.

How is Podophobia Treated?

There are a range of therapies available for individuals with foot phobias, including systematic desensitization, medication and meditative exercises to reduce the intensity of the anxiety-based feelings and reactions and to regain control over the mind gradually.

The type of treatment used to ease the effects of podophobia will differ depending on the severity of the phobia. Extreme cases may require cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to alter the brain’s reactions to images and thoughts of feet, whilst medication may be used to combat underlying anxiety and mental health issues which have contributed to the podophobia’s development.