Celebrity Germaphobes - Behind the Glamour - Addmaster

Celebrity Germaphobes - Behind the Glamour

Paul Willocks
Marketing Manager (Addmaster)
Celebrity Germaphobes - Behind the Glamour

Germophobia is a term used to describe a pathological fear of germs, bacteria, uncleanliness, contamination, and infection. Germophobia, also known as mysophobia, verminophobia, and bacillophobia, is most commonly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but can present in a wide variety of people. Individuals with germophobia may feel compelled to excessively wash their hands and to take other precautions against contamination.[1]

In the dazzling realm of fame, where the spotlights never dim and the red carpets are rolled out, a lesser-known reality exists for some celebrities — the struggle with germaphobia. We delve into the lives of five celebrity germaphobes, shedding light on how they navigate the challenges of maintaining personal cleanliness whilst thriving in the public eye.

  1. Howie Mandel: The renowned comedian and television host has been an open book about his battle with germaphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Mandel will not touch handrails and terms them his "enemy". He also refuses to shake hands, even with friends or family. "In my mind my hand is like a petri dish. Otherwise, I would spend the day, as I have in the past in my life in the men's room rubbing and scrubbing" he said [2]. He also said that his germophobia lead him to be bald by choice "This feels so streamlined and so clean" he explained. Mandel's journey is marked by humour, using comedy as a coping mechanism. In addition to his successful career, Mandel has become an advocate for mental health, working to destigmatize conditions like OCD. By sharing his experiences, Mandel demonstrates that one can find strength and resilience through humour and advocacy, even in the face of personal struggles.
  2. Cameron Diaz: Known for her roles in blockbuster films, Cameron Diaz has openly discussed her germophobic tendencies. In an interview with Time Magazine Diaz disclosed that as a sufferer from mysophobia, more casually known as germaphobia, she washes her hands (a lot!), and is unable to touch door handles with her bare skin for fear of a microscopic biological attack. Diaz, who has now stepped away from the Hollywood spotlight, emphasises the importance of self-care. Beyond her career, Diaz's commitment to aseptic living extends to her personal life. Her journey highlights the need for balance in an industry that often demands constant interaction, showcasing that prioritising mental well-being can lead to a fulfilling and content life outside of the public eye.
  3. Donald Trump: Former President Donald Trump has been vocal about his aversion to germs, a trait that became evident during his time in office. Trump's avoidance of handshakes and meticulous cleanliness habits offer a unique perspective on how germaphobia can influence public perception, even at the highest levels of political power. In his third book Trump elaborated on handshakes, “One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get,” he wrote. “I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.” Beyond the political arena, Trump's experiences underscore the challenges faced by germaphobes in leadership roles, where physical interactions and public appearances are inevitable.
  4. Howard Hughes: An iconic business magnate, aviator, and filmmaker from the early to mid-20th century, Hughes developed an extreme aversion to germs, leading to eccentric behaviours such as obsessive handwashing and a preference for minimal human contact. Hughes spent most of his life trying to avoid germs. Towards the end of his life, he would lay naked in bed in darkened hotel rooms in what he considered a germ-free zone. He wore tissue boxes on his feet to protect them. And he burned his clothing if someone near him became ill [3]. His life serves as a historical example of how germaphobia can influence not only personal choices but also shape the public perception of a prominent figure.
  5. Naomi Campbell: Supermodel and fashion icon Naomi Campbell is well-known for her meticulous attention to cleanliness and hygiene due to her struggles with germophobia. Over the years, Campbell has openly discussed her fear of germs and her stringent habits to avoid them. From meticulously wiping down her airplane seats and hotel rooms with disinfectant wipes to always wearing gloves and a mask during travel, Campbell's dedication to staying germ-free is evident. In interviews, she has emphasised the importance of cleanliness in maintaining her health and well-being, especially given her hectic lifestyle and frequent travels. Despite the challenges posed by her germophobia, Campbell has become a vocal advocate for personal hygiene and has inspired others to prioritise cleanliness in their daily routines.

The lives of these five celebrity germaphobes offer a glimpse into the personal struggles that often accompany fame. By sharing their stories, these stars humanise the glitzy world of Hollywood, demonstrating that vulnerability is a universal experience. As they continue to inspire others to prioritise mental well-being, their journeys underscore the importance of acknowledging and addressing the challenges of germaphobia in the pursuit of a fulfilling life in the limelight. The collective experiences of these celebrities encourage a broader conversation, reminding us all that fame does not exempt individuals from personal battles, and that seeking support and understanding is a sign of strength.


[1] Mysophobia (Germophobia): The Fear of Germs - https://www.psycom.net/mysophobia-germophobia
[2] Germs: 'No Deal' for Host Howie Mandel - https://abcnews.go.com/2020/howie-mandel-public-obsessive-compulisve-disorder-fear-germs/story?id=9153966
[3] Hughes's germ phobia revealed in psychological autopsy - https://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug05/hughes

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