Chaetophobia is a rare phobia which causes an irrational, abnormal and persistent fear of hair. The word is derived from Greek khaite which means ‘loose flowing hair’ and phobos meaning aversion or fear.
People with chaetophobia have difficulty even looking at hair. A Welsh teenager, Emily White, who suffers from the phobia can’t even touch her own head because it makes her feel sick, and is unable to go on dates with boys unless they have shaved heads.
Doctors believe this phobia can be linked to a fear of dirt or germs, with hair being perceived by the sufferer as dirty. However it can also occur in men who are starting to lose their hair, and have the phobia triggered as a result of anxiety. Sufferers can also fear animal hair and be unable to own pets.
Intensive psychological therapy, medication, and the use of support groups are used to treat this phobia.