My Daughter! -Clean/ Germ Obsession

Updated on July 08, 2015
V.G. asks from Lake Villa, IL
21 answers

Hello Moms,

I have a situation here. My daughter (9 years) has kind of a bug in her mind that whatever she touches has germs and will Make her sick.

1. She washes her hand too many times. Sometimes in middle of food.
2. Her hand is rolling in hand sanitizer.
3. If her clothes touches counter she will go change.
4. She is scared she will swallow toothpaste and fall sick. Forcefully spit and has the miniscule toothpaste on.
5. Anything touches toilet bowl, she is scared.
6. Changes her panty 4-5 sometimes more in a day.
7. So scared that she is grumpy and/ or crying that she is getting sick.

I tried lot of things, talk to nicely, scolded her, go mad - she is going into more deeper everyday. I do feel some of it is attention. Her brother is 2 and takes up lot of our time. She feels we do treat him better than her and pay attention when he cries. While we are ignoring her.

Please provide helpful hint suggestion, if you faced similar situation and what worked.

Thanks a bunch

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answers from Sacramento on

Agree with the others. Clear indicators of OCD. Ask her pediatrician for a referral to a child psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can help and can also recommend a therapist for the supplemental help needed with this disorder.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

This has got to be so hard on her (and you).
Some of my earliest best memories are making mud pies, playing in the sandbox and with dirt and mud puddles.
I feel sorry for any kid that can't enjoy that!

She needs some professional help.
Please get her to a psychologist asap.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Yes, I went through something VERY similar with my daughter. Please know this is a REAL thing, this kind of anxiety, and it can be very frustrating for both you and your daughter!
I originally thought my girl was OCD, but after getting her into therapy it turns out that what was really going on was that she has an extreme fear of throwing up, hence all the hand washing and obsession with germs, spoiled food, touching things that might be contaminated, etc. The official term is emetophbia (not sure if I'm spelling that right but you can google it.)
I would ask her pediatrician for a referral to a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders in children/teens. I'm not sure if your daughter has the same issue as mine but it sure SOUNDS the same.
Good luck!!!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My friend's daughter went through this and it wasn't actually OCD. It was anxiety. She only figured that out by taking her daughter to therapy.

She was just anxious and this is how it manifested.

It can be OCD for sure as other moms have mentioned. But it can also just be how a child copes with anxiety. They try to control their environment and what affects them (washing, being clean, etc.) as a coping mechanism. Or it can just be a sign of stress.

I would definitely talk to your pediatrician about getting her in to see someone.

Don't get angry about it - although I totally get why it's frustrating. it's hard to remain patient.

If it is attention seeking, then again, counselling can help (you and her). Make sure you're involved with the counselling - so you know what you can do to help her too. Sometimes it's just a matter of going a few times. If it's more involved, then you will find out.

Good luck :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It sounds like she has some sort of OCD obsession.

You need to get her treated by a counselor before it gets worse so she can learn to control it and not live life the way she is now.

She deserves the opportunity to be able to work through this.

Talk to your pedi, get counseling recommendations and follow through.

Also plan to spend one on one time with her.. she needs you as well. Communicate and let her know you don't understand her struggles but as her mom, you will do everything in your power to help her. Communicate.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

She needs to be treated. Please go see the doctor and get her a referral to a psychiatrist who can do therapy and prescribe her anti-anxiety medication.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

This is serious. She needs cognitive behavioral therapy and maybe meds.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

This is clearly OCD. Has she had strep or another recent infection/virus? Did her symptoms come on quickly? Does she have tics at all? If so, you might want to have her checked for PANS/PANDAS. Google it. Doctor ASAP. Good luck. I know how hard it is to watch her go through this.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Are you in the US? If you are, you need to ask your pediatrician for a referral to a psychiatrist who treats this disorder. You cannot fix this with her. She MUST have professional help. Please don't wait any longer. Obsessive/compulsive disorder is ruining her life and hurting her family.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

She needs therapy and maybe medication for a while as well. This will be a process to work on. Something has "switched" in her brain and she has become obsessive about it and also has abnormal levels of anxiety. Some people are just prone to anxiety and I believe behavioral therapy can be very helpful...and may be something she needs to do off and on her entire life depending on how bad it is for her. Besides talking to the doctor and setting up a therapist appointment...try spending more one on one time with her each day. Have a time period every day that is designated mommy-daughter time...just to play together, hang out, do art, snuggle, throw a ball, do sidewalk chalk, ride bikes, play some cards...Talk to her about what is bothering her. Assure her that her brother will only be this little for a certain period of time and then he will take up less of your time and that she was once 2 and did the same things as he is doing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

She needs help.

Please contact her pediatrician and describe her behavior just as you have to us.


If you are in Lake Bluff, it shows there is a children's hospital close to you (Ann & Robert Lurie) you can also call there and ask for a psychological evaluation for your daughter.

Either way she needs professional help, not punishment.

Let it go and keep her safe until you get more specific instructions from a professional.

Good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Please take her to a doctor.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would consider that she has OCD or sensory issues and rather than being angry, you need to find her professional help and behavior therapy. This is interfering with her life, and much more than an attention-getting scheme. Please help her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What TF and Doris said. Please don't assume this is just for attention. Take her to the pediatrician. She may need to see a counselor for this, as the behaviors sound like they're OCD (obsessive/compulsive disorder). You can't fix this. And this is NOT typical attention seeking.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I absolutely agree with the other posts. She needs to be evaluated by her doctor and referred to a therapist.

I would go one step further and call the school. Ask the office personnel if she up in the office a lot. What were her complaints? See if you can talk to (or email) her teacher. Ask the teacher if she noticed anything.

Try to figure out when this started happening. Did someone get very sick or die recently? Did something significant happen in her life? Is she a sensitive child who has always been a worrier?

Please please get her evaluated.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

She has obsessive compulsive disorder. It can be helped. Look for assistance Check out websites. Perhaps NAMI. It is not attention seeking it is real, but this is not crazy. They suffer from this. My exhusband had it. Helping her now will free her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

This is likely the onset of a mental illness called OCD or OCPD. She needs to see a psychologist right away. There are meds she can take to help with this and she can live a pretty normal life.

There is a correlation between kids who are kept too clean and MS as an adult. Kids need to grow their immune systems.

To go to these extremes she is not just having an issue with germs, she's full out having fear and not functioning. She needs help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

She is young and you need to deal with this now, before this OCD really sets in.

First, she should get to a therapist. Second, you should try a therapy where you expose her to what she's afraid of. There's a name for that type of therapy but I can't recall it. She should be exposed to dirt, etc.

Nip this in the B. now with therapy. She doesn't want to have a lifetime of OCD and the longer it goes on the more it will get hardwired into her brain.



answers from Wausau on

She needs medical and psychological care. Her doctors will then be able to educate you on the details and how to be the kind of parent she needs.



answers from New York on

I second Letty's suggestion of having her checked for PANDAS. My nephew had it and became VERY OCD with regard to cleanliness, to the point where he had a breakdown in the examining room at the doctor's office as he imagined all the germs that must have been in there. When the nurse came in and he was cowering in the corner, and nothing my sister could say would calm him, it drove home the point that he did have a problem.



answers from Chicago on

I would talk about this with the pediatrician and get a referral for an evaluation. The is nothing "wrong" with her. A prfessional can help her sort things out and deal with everyday living. It has got to be really hard.

I knew a woman that had similar issues after being in a car accident. She isolated herself and it got to the point that she was afraid to enjoy life.

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