Do You Have This Strange Disease and Not Even Know It?

WARNING: Slide show images are disturbing and make freak you out.

A disgusting photo of an injured hand has been floating around internet recently — and it’s the kind of image you can’t get out of your head. But what freaked us out were the headlines we’ve seen with it:

  • What Parasite Caused This?
  • Do You Have This Parasite in Your Body?
  • You Don’t Want to Catch This!

Did some creepy critter really cause this skin condition?

A search on the image reveals that it’s from a YouTube video called “Trypophobia Hand Tutorial” from QUEENKINGSFX. They show how to make this bubbly skin on your own body using Mehron Spirit GumBen Nye Nose & Scar Wax,
argan oil and some basic home tools. So, in terms of whether or not there is a parasite that causes this, the answer is — No.

But trypophobia is real, and you may have it, especially if images like this hand freak you out. It’s a mental condition — a fear of holes — and that fear can stem from natural holes you’ll see in things like a honeycomb or lotus flower. It can also be generated when from photoshopped images of holes on human body parts. Trypophobia.com defines it as “a weird kind of phobia and it can generally be considered as the fear of shapes. We are talking especially by the shapes created by nature.”

But it’s not the holes themselves that are the problem.

Researchers Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins of the Centre for Brain Science at the University of Essex had subjects view images on Trypophobia.com. They concluded that our brains associate the holes with danger. What kind of danger is still being studied, but clearly these photoshopped images are adding to the hysteria.

If you’ve never heard of trypophobia, it’s no surprise, since it’s a relatively new one. Mental Floss offered this explanation:

The term trypophobia is rumored to have been coined in 2005 by an anonymous Irish woman in a Web forum who clearly tapped into a zeitgeist of GAH! The term’s use online really took off around 2009, especially in the Philippines. Today you can find countless examples of people sharing photos of holes that deeply rattle them. While many, like the lotus seed pod and boiling milk, are au naturel shots of real, mostly innocuous objects, others are poorly photoshopped yet nevertheless appalling pictures of cluster holes superimposed mostly on human bodies—especially faces.

So the best way to combat trypophobia when you see strange clustered holes on a human body is to look away; they’re not real. Check out the selection we found in the slide show above.