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Fear of Needles

Who has it? Why does it happen? And other questions about this common fear.

What is it called?

Trypanophobia is the fear of needles and/or blood. Although it is most common in children, the fear of needles does not disappear completely with age. Up to 30% of adults aged 20 to 40 have trypanophobia, and 16% of adult patients say they avoid their regular flu shot because of this fear. [1]

Why do people have it?

Some people with trypanophobia may have had previous negative experiences with injections, but for others it is an innate (natural) fear that has always been there. Fear or anxiety before and during injections can result in panic attacks, sweating, nausea, and even fainting, which frequently occurs during or after a needle stick. Although there can be pain associated with injections or blood draws, trypanophobia is about more than a fleeting moment of pain, and getting past it is not a matter of just “toughing it out.”[1]

How does it affect people’s lives?

Even though flu shots are offered at convenient pharmacies, health care provider offices, and some places of work, plenty of people never end up getting the annual flu shot. [2] There are many reasons that a person may not get the flu vaccine, and for some people just the thought of getting that injection can get the heart racing and palms sweating.

For those treating chronic diseases, including psoriatic disease, options can sometimes be limited to receiving frequent injections or dealing with painful or debilitating symptoms. For some, the symptoms may feel like the lesser of two apparent evils.

Why does this matter to someone with psoriatic disease??

In many ways, biologic treatments, taken by injection or by IV infusion, have changed the way people live with psoriatic disease. To learn more about this type of treatment, we need to turn no further than our own National Psoriasis Foundation website:

Biologics are different from traditional systemic drugs that impact the entire immune system. Biologics target specific parts of the immune system. The biologics used to treat psoriatic disease block the action of a specific type of immune cell or specific proteins in the immune system that play a major role in developing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).  

Some biologics, commonly known as DMARDs, attempt to slow or stop the processes in the body that cause joint damage. They target a specific cytokine, or protein, called tumor necrosis factor-alpha.

Your health care provider can share more information about biologics, and only a health care provider can determine if biologics are the best treatment for you. [3]

Although there have been many advances made towards the oral delivery of biologics, it is unlikely to be widely available for quite some time. [4]

How can people get past the fear?

You may never look forward to injections or blood draws, but by having an honest conversation with your health care provider, you may be able to identify some proven methods or techniques that allow you to better tolerate the experience.

Psoriasis 101

Newly diagnosed? Want a refresher? Dr. Jason E. Hawkes is here to break down the science of psoriatic disease.

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1.  McLenon, J, Rogers, MAM. The fear of needles: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Adv Nurs. 2019; 75: 30– 42. doi:10.1111/jan.13818

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flue Vaccination Coverage, U.S., 2020-21 Influenza Season. October 2021

3. National Psoriasis Foundation. Biologics. Updated October 2020

4. Mantaj, J, Vllasaliu, D. Recent advances in the oral delivery of biologics. Pharmaceutical Journal. 2020; 304. doi:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207374

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