Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental condition, where an individual have certain thoughts repeatedly, perform certain routines repeatedly and feels the need to check things repeatedly. One type of this condition—and the most well-known—involves cleaning rituals, where sufferers can be described as perpetually engaged in compulsive acts of decontamination. These people can be divided into two groups, namely those who try to prevent being harmed or spread harm to others through contamination and those who feel contaminated or discomfort by specific substances, but are not worried about harm.
Specifically, the first group is usually worried about coming down with a disease from contamination, which may involve feeling responsible for spreading contamination in some cases, while the second group tends to have fewer identifiable obsessions and would perform cleaning compulsions to merely relieve the discomfort they would experience from feeling dirty. Generally, these people have very strong disgust reactions and would engage in cleaning rituals to try and prevent dangers they perceive.
- People with OCD cleanliness disorder would typically engage in excessive washing to get rid of dirt and germs or just to feel clean, often involving repeated hand-washing. This act is usually performed in a ritualized manner, where the person would individually clean each finger and, sometimes, under each nail. It is not rare to find people with this type of disorder to have hands that are red and chapped, and even have indication of bleeding. Once their hands are clean, they would then carefully turn off the tap with another object, such as a napkin or towel, to avoid recontamination. They would also engage in excessive use of hand sanitizers between their trips to the sink.
- This disorder may cause an individual to spend a lot of time cleaning of household items or other inanimate objects. For instance, he would wash his mobile phone, credit cards, shoes or other things that he saw coming into contact with objects that he considers as contaminated or dirty.
- OCD sufferers would also engage in excessive or ritualized bathing, tooth-brushing, grooming or any other toilet routine.
- People with OCD cleanliness disorder will often go to great lengths to avoid getting dirty, where they would not touch their shoes by pushing one heel by the other to take them off. They would also use a tissue or sleeve to open a door knob.
- They would unreasonably wear gloves or take other measures to avoid contact with contaminants.
OCD cleanliness is a mental condition that is yet to be fully understood, but experts believe that there is a genetic component to it, as it is observed to have the tendency to run in the family. It can be learned based on the habits you may have developed during childhood or over a long period of time. Its treatment involves the use of behavioral therapy and, in some cases, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
However, no matter how severe the situation may seem, you can always seek professional help to treat OCD cleanliness disorder. This will help dramatically improved your quality of life and of your loved ones.