The OCD treatments we have already discussed, therapy (CBT and exposure, or ERP), medications, or a combination of the two, can be effective ways to treat fears of physical health.
Education is also very important. Teaching people about appropriate hand washing is often necessary (no more than thirty seconds, or else you start to damage the oils on your hands and eventually your skin, leading to a greater chance of contamination in the future).
It is helpful to have a nurse provide this education because nurses are experts in this area. Also, some basic education about viruses and germs can be helpful (for example, HIV only lives for about thirty seconds outside of the body).
Once people with OCD have the right information, instead of focusing on what their obsessions tell them, such as “I can catch HIV if I touch a doorknob that someone with HIV touched within the last twenty-four hours,” they may be more likely to challenge their obsessions.
Finally, a cost-benefit analysis of the OCD may be important.
While it may appear that the benefits of the OCD are high (not getting ill due to a constant watch over your physical health), the costs are probably greater (alienating family members, for example, due to your always thinking that something is physically wrong with you), even though they may not be as readily apparent as the preceived benefits.