Rhytiphobia:the Fear of Wrinkles

This article provides information on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and management of this phobia.

Rhytiphobia is an intense, irrational fear of wrinkles especially on one’s face. We all know that it’s inevitable that we develop wrinkles as we age, but for the rhytiphobic individual, this becomes a paralyzing fear. The individual coping with this phobia may buy expensive creams and/or even invest in plastic surgery to avoid wrinkles.

Rhytiphobia derives from the Greek word “rhytis”, meaning wrinkle and “phobos” meaning fear.

What Causes Rhytiphobia?

As is the case with all phobias, the person impacted by Rhytiphobia has experienced a trauma at some time in their life. That experience is then automatically and consistently associated with wrinkles.

The rhytiphobic person may fear elderly people or as a child, was never involved with elderly people such as grandparents or aunts and uncles. Perhaps this individual is unable to accept the inevitable fact that we all grow old. Obviously, media attention on smooth, beautiful skin does little to lessen the rhytiphobic person’s fear of wrinkles.

What Are the Symptoms of Rhytiphobia?

The symptoms of Rhytiphobia are individual and will vary from person to person. Some people, when confronted with their fear of wrinkles, may begin to perspire, feel slightly uncomfortable or become nauseated. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other people are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they may experience paralyzing anxiety and/or panic attacks.

Other symptoms of Rhytiphobia may include:

* A Dry Mouth

* Heart Palpitations

* Numbness

* Heightened Senses

* Breathlessness

* Feeling Dizzy

* Muscle Tension

* Hyperventilation

* Trembling

* Rapid Heartbeat

* Feeling Out of Control

* Feeling Trapped and Unable to Escape

* Intense Feeling of Impending Disaster

How Is Rhytiphobia Diagnosed?

The vast majority of cases of Rhytiphobia are self-diagnosed. The individual realizes that their fear of wrinkles is irrational and is severely compromising their ability to function on a daily basis.

The rhytiphobic person may discuss their phobia with the primary physician. Rarely would the doctor diagnosis Rhytiphobia based on that initial discussion with the patient. More routinely, after ruling out any medical reason for this phobia, the doctor will refer the person to a mental health professional for comprehensive assessment and evaluation.

How Is Rhytiphobia Treated?

When the fear of wrinkles becomes intense enough to disrupt an individual’s ability to function, there are a number of ways to treat Rhytiphobia.

These can include:

* A referral from the primary physician to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.

* Traditional “talk” therapy that will teach the person to recognize and control their phobia.

* Hypnotherapy.

* Exposure Therapy.

* Self-help techniques such as purposeful muscle relaxation.

* Support groups with other people who are coping with this specific phobia.

* Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy.

* Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization.

* In severe cases of Rhytiphobia, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.

Rhytiphobia is an intense, irrational fear of wrinkles. Sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely stop a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, Rhytiphobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with an individual’s personal life, their social life and job responsibilities. Untreated, Rhytiphobia can impact every aspect of a person’s life.

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