Needle Phobia

What is Needle Phobia?

Needle phobia, also known as trypanophobia, aichmophobia, belonephobia, or enetophobia, is an extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. For most people who acquire this fear, it develops around age 4 or 5 with a bad immunization experience. About 3-5% of women and 1-2% of men have a genetic predisposition to getting light-headed or fainting. While this can lead to an avoidance of needles, it starts out as physiology, not fear.

The incidence of adult needle phobia, ranked at 10% in a 1995 study, has been steadily growing. A study by Dr. Taddio in 2012 found a prevalence of 24% of adults. Similarly, a 2012 survey by Target found 23% of those who didn’t get a flu shot avoided it because of the needle. For children, the incidence changed from 25% (Hamilton) to 63% (Taddio) — 252% increase in less than 2 decades! Fear of needles is a barrier to health.

What are the health risks of needle phobia?

As fear of needles has risen, public health implications are already being seen. The Taddio Study found noncompliance with vaccination due to fear in 7% of adults and 8% of children. According to a study of patients who DID go for travel vaccinations, 22% of adults fear needles enough to take risks with their health; the irony is that this study was DONE at a travel immunization clinic. What about patients who didn’t even go to the clinic to be available to ask? Studies from Japan to Thailand show that up to 75% of people do not donate blood due to fear, which affects our emergency safety system. Depending on the types and severity of the needle phobia, health risks may vary. Directly, the vasovagal response can cause a sudden blood plunge of blood pressure in patients when exposed to sharp pain. 3-5% of people feel faint in this manner, and it has been shown to be largely an inherited genetic trait. Indirectly, the needle phobia prevents patients from making good medical decisions. While 39% of adults in one recent travel clinic study said they feared needles, again – surveying patients at a clinic is like asking people at a football game how they feel about football. The risk of bias is large.

Why is it Important to Prevent Needle Phobia in Children?

Protecting anyone from life-long needle phobia must start from their first memorable experiences with needles early on in childhood. Even in case of those who are genetically predisposed to developing needle phobia, factors other than the nature play an important role in the development of this condition. If parents and professionals intervene early on in children’s lives, it can help protect them from developing this health threatening condition.
Needle pain management is one of the most effective ways of such intervention. During the first encounters with needles, needle pain management and distraction can protect the child from traumatic experience associated with medical pocedures and the clinical environment and experience, and prevent the child from developing anxiety and even phobia later in her life.

How is needle phobia treated?

Buzzy and lidocaine were offered to help increase complicance and were shown to help decrease needle fear over time.
The blue graph is the initial pain or fear rating for a monthly bicillin shot; the yellow shows the decrease with Buzzy and/or lidocaine mixed in after 3 uses. At the end of the study, 43% still made Buzzy a part of their shot routine, successful enough to continue the program!

Another successful case study here (starts page 2) describes helping a 12 year old past his growing fear of needles involved a 6 visit plan, desensitization, learning AND PRACTICING coping techniques, and learning how to educate healthcare staff on helpful and harmful interaction strategies.

How can Buzzy Help Address Needle Phobia?

According to clinical research, Buzzy Pain Relief can reduce IV needle pain by 50%; some studies have looked at both pain and fear. Used with DistrACTION Cards and questions, Buzzy can reduce pain to close to 0 (0.53 on a 10 point scale, Inal S above.). The physiology of cold and vibration, called Gate Control, naturally blocks out the competing stimulation of pain. Controlling as many aspects of a medical visit as possible is one way to control your fear of needles.

Knowing you’re not alone can help as well. This article on the psychological effects of needle fear demonstrates the reality and importance of the condition.


Children with Needle Phobia in 1995


Children with Needle Phobia in 2012


Percentage Increase of Child Needle Phobia in Less Than 20 Years


People Who Avoided Flu Vaccinations Because of Needle Fear (2012)


Adults With Needle Phobia (2012)


People Who Don't Donate Blood From Needle Fear (Japan to Thailand Study)

People Who Overcame Needle Phobia

Some success stories from people who used Buzzy to overcome their fear of needles

Hello my name is Matthew Swint and I live in Atlanta. I am 37 years old and… have a needle phobia. I just ordered a Buzzy this week and tried it out yesterday while having my blood drawn. Let me tell you that I am amazed at this product. I had no idea that she had even stuck me yet and by the time I was done talking with the nurse she had already drawn 5 vials of blood and we were finished. I usually pass out and the nurses can not finish taking my blood. This is a huge step in life for me. I will continue to use and tell everyone I know about this product.

Matthew Swint

Former Needle Fearer

I am giving total consent to use [the testimonial]. I have told everyone I know about it and have explained my situation to them to tell them how much the Buzzy has been a Godsend to me. I was skeptical at first but I decided to give it a try and $40.00 seemed like a small price to pay for something that could potentially help. I was at my wits end and even knowing I absolutely needed to be on the Victoza I just could not force myself to do it again on my own. I have done it a few times but had a bad experience—-very uncomfortable and had to stop the Victoza once. When my doctor heard I wanted to get back on it again (after using the Buzzy which she didn’t know about) she told a lot of other doctors at the clinic that by knowing me she thought there was no way I was going to stick with it. She told me herself the story about saying that to everyone on the last visit. I explained to her about the Buzzy and how it’s helped me to be able to use the Victoza and she was ecstatic. I gave her the website and she is going to check it out and recommend it as well. I had also gotten close to the diabetes educator who had tried to help me and be supportive and she was disappointed but understood my fear and why I couldn’t. When she called me back and I told her about the Victoza and the Buzzy she had more excitement in her voice than I did.She is also going to check out the website and recommend it to everyone (like me) that has a needle phobia.Your product has helped me not only tremendously but has helped turn my life around.Not only did I lose weight from the Victoza but my A1C went from an 8.0 (terrible) to a 7.2 and my doctor wanted me 7.0 or under so I am so close and she is over the moon that I was able to accomplish what I did. I would have never been able to do it on my own without the Buzzy! Thank you for inventing such an ingenious product!

Janet M.

True Believer in the Power of Buzzy

You are certainly to be congratulated for having a product for needle phobic people that has withstood the test of time… Buzzy seems to be about the only really effective product for needle phobia that is available without a doctor’s authorization.

Jerry Emanuelson

The Needle Phobia Page

I always use Buzzy for my shots and give a silent prayer of thanks for this great invention.

Dianne Lazzaria

Thankful for Buzzy

Buzzy has literally changed my life! Needle phobia GONE! Thank you, best of luck!!!

Angela Stanton Vermillion

Ex Needle Fearer