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Iontophoresis

sandra eriksson mirkovic hyperhidrosis
Written by Dr. Sandra Eriksson Mirkovic, licensed physician with special interest in hyperhidrosis

Iontophoresis is a sweat treatment method that is used for decades. It is used for the treatment of palms, feet, and underarms. Clinical studies show that iontophoresis has a proven long-term effect in the treatment of axillary and palmoplantar hyperhidrosis. It can also be used by athletes to improve grip performance or help with injuries.

What is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by excessive sweating that is not caused because of heat or exercise. This condition affects almost 3% of the world population.

For some people, it can completely disappear over the years, but for some, it can get worse. There isn't a cure for hyperhidrosis discovered yet, but there are treatments that can help patients sweat less.

Learn more about excessive sweating types, symptoms, and diagnosis on our hyperhidrosis page.

What is iontophoresis?

Iontophoresis is an excessive sweating treatment performed with an iontophoresis device. The device delivers electrical currents through the tap water to your skin and stimulates your sweat glands.

The electrical current changes the way your nerves send signals to your sweat glands and causes sweat reduction. To start the treatment, you need to submerge affected body parts in the tap water.

iontophoresis treatment

What can you use iontophoresis for?

Tap water iontophoresis - hyperhidrosis treatment

Generally, tap water is used for the treatment of craniofacial, palmoplantar hyperhidrosis, and axillary hyperhidrosis. But, some people can use it in combination with prescribed medications or drugs that are also used for excessive sweating treatment.

Application in sports medicine

The treatment can also serve athletes in physical therapy. It can be used for improving grip function, treating sports injuries like athlete's foot, heel pain, and other deeper tissues related injuries. In these cases, anti-inflammatory medicine and drugs can be added to the water.

How does iontophoresis work?

Iontophoresis is a simple and painless treatment. Unlike other treatments for hyperhidrosis, it usually doesn't have any side effects or mild in some cases. The machine consists of a weak power source with an adjustable current. The power source is connected to a water bath where you place your hands or feet.

To start with your treatment, you need to turn the power on and place your feet or hands in two water baths. Or, you can place wet electrodes in the underarm area so you can treat the sweating of the underarms.

An iontophoresis treatment session lasts for 20-40 minutes. Some of our customers noticed reduced sweating after a few treatments. Usually, it takes about 8-12 treatments (one per day, or once every second day) to reach the full effect.

The level of sweat you're experiencing, area of sweating, and other factors can play a role in how fast you'll achieve the full effect.

iontophoresis treatment

When you achieve the full effect of the treatment, you need to proceed with continuous treatments. For continuous treatments, we recommend that you use the iontophoresis machine about 1-4 times a month (varies a lot from person to person).

Even after you achieve your desired results, you have to be persistent with continuous treatments, or the effect will decrease.

Who can use the iontophoresis device?

Iontophoresis is an excellent alternative for you if you:

  • Don't have access to sweat clinics in your area
  • Want a cheaper alternative to continuous injection treatments
  • Don't want to experience muscle weakness as a side effect
  • Have a fear of needles and surgery
  • Don't want to travel often to receive treatment
  • Are an athlete that wants to sweat reduction to positively affect your performance

You shouldn't use iontophoresis if:

  • You're pregnant. Iontophoresis was not tested on pregnant women, and it is not advised to use it during pregnancy. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is not a contraindication.
  • You have a pacemaker or some metal implant in the body in the path of the current

Contact us if you want to be certain.

  1. Hidroxa Iontophoresis SE 20
    Hidroxa Iontophoresis SE 20
    Iontophoresis is a scientifically proven method for hyperhidrosis treatment. Our Hidroxa SE 20 io ...
    380 €
    Read more

Side effects

Clinical studies show that iontophoresis is an effective and safe treatment for plantar, axillary, and palmar hyperhidrosis with minimal side effects. [3]

The most common side effect is increased dryness of the skin. This can be treated with different moisturizers that you can apply to the skin after each session.

Other side effects that are not common as dryness are:

  • Skin peeling
  • Blistering
  • Irritation

Does iontophoresis really work?

Even though iontophoresis is a successful and non-invasive treatment option, you might wonder if it really works. As an iontophoresis machine reseller, we often get questions from our customers like:

“I have tried so much before, and nothing worked. Can this really work?”
“Water and electricity combined. Is that safe?”
“How can a machine that uses water affect my sweating condition?”

There have been researches done by many medical institutes and hospitals, which prove that it can be convenient for patients with palmoplantar hyperhidrosis for the most part, but also for the axillary hyperhidrosis patients. Iontophoresis has been used as a treatment option for plantar and/or palmar hyperhidrosis since 1952.

In the same year, a study on the treatment performance was conducted. 85% of the people that participated saw improvement in their sweat reduction after tap water iontophoresis treatment. [4]

In a recent study, 29 patients with severe palmar hyperhidrosis were enrolled in the study in two groups A and B. Group A received active iontophoresis treatment. Group B received sham treatment. The participants performed the study for 20 minutes, five times a week, for a duration of 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, 27 patients completed the treatment.

  • 92.9% of patients treated with iontophoresis saw improvements in sweat reduction after one week of treatment. After 2 weeks and a completed study - the sweat secretion rate was reduced by 91.8% for patients from group A treated with iontophoresis, and 39.1% for patients that performed the sham treatment. [1]
  • 76.8% of patients reported that their life quality has improved after they started to perform the treatment. [1]
  • It usually takes 6-15 treatments for patients to start noticing effects. [2]
  • Iontophoresis is an alternative treatment for axillary and palmoplantar hyperhidrosis, that needs to be done few times a week initially, and in case of no effect, Hidroxa offers a right to return the machine as mentioned in the Oslo University hospital hyperhidrosis eBook. [6]

iontophoresis treatment

We understand that each individual has their own experience, so that's why we at Hidroxa give you a 50-day trial period for the device, with the right to withdraw from the sale.

You can test the Hidroxa SE 20 machine to see if it fits you, and decide if you're satisfied with the results. Iontophoresis is a successful treatment when used regularly, so it's important for you to stay motivated to use the machine after you achieve the full effect to maintain your condition.

Unfortunately, despite hyperhidrosis being a serious condition making life harder for millions of people, it still isn't prioritized in healthcare. We have personally experienced how difficult it can't be to find clinics that offer treatment for hyperhidrosis.

This method is often forgotten. Even by doctors that are working with patients that have hyperhidrosis. We at Hidroxa are trying to bring back the knowledge about this excellent treatment method to the health care personnel and clinics.

That's why we were motivated to provide everyone with the opportunity for treatment. With the Hidroxa SE 20 machine, you can do the treatment in the comfort of your own home. Our customers who struggled to find the right sweat clinic reported that being able to treat their condition at home helped them control their hyperhidrosis, and improve their life quality.

Is the treatment going to cure my sweating condition?

There isn't a cure for hyperhidrosis discovered yet, but treatment like tap water iontophoresis can help to control the condition effectively. People don't often recognize that their problem can be treatable, or often use products that are not medically approved and non-effective. Before starting any type of treatment, medication, or drug, you should contact your doctor or dermatologist to see if there are any contraindications that might be an obstacle.

Is the treatment painful?

It doesn't hurt to use the treatment, but a minority of people experience itching or tingling feelings. The closest feeling to that is like when you put a tongue on a battery. Some people may describe it as a slight discomfort but it depends on the current density.

Thus, it is a subjective feeling. We always suggest that you start the treatment with a low current, and then increase the current density slowly.

If you have cuts or wounds on the skin of the area that you are planning to treat, make sure that you cover them with a thick layer of Vaseline or another type of petroleum jelly. Some machines like Hidroxa offer a constant current and pulsed current mode, and with the pulsed current, you can reduce possible discomfort.

How does the treatment procedure look?

In general, you place your hands or feet in containers with tap water or put electrodes for axillary hyperhidrosis treatment under your arms. If the tap water in your area doesn't have enough electrolytes to provide enough current level to reach your skin, you can add a teaspoon of salt into the water of each container.

The treatment can last 20-40 minutes depending on your sweat level. The treatment is normally repeated 3-5 times a week, and once you achieve desired results, you can switch to a maintenance mode which consists of 1-2 treatments per week.

Hidroxa is the only company based in Sweden that provides iontophoresis devices (Hidroxa SE20)

  1. Hidroxa Iontophoresis SE 20
    Hidroxa Iontophoresis SE 20
    Iontophoresis is a scientifically proven method for hyperhidrosis treatment. Our Hidroxa SE 20 io ...
    380 €
    Read more

Questions about Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis is a method of treating excessive sweating using a machine that uses a very weak electrical current. You sit with your hands or feet in a water bath through which the current passes. Alternatively, in the case of other body parts, such as armpits, damp electrodes are put in the affected area through which the current passes. It is a machine intended primarily for domestic use.

Scientists are not quite sure why it works, but one hypothesis is that the ions in the water form a mechanical blockage that prevents sweat from coming out of the sweat glands, resulting in less sweating. Another theory is that the treatment affects the nerve impulses in the sweat glands which leads to reduced activity in the glands.

Recent studies suggest that iontophoresis increases the threshold value in the nerve cells so that more stimuli is required for an action potential, a signal to the sweat gland, to arise.

Iontophoresis can have a good effect on excessive sweating in up to 90-95% of the patients when used correctly.

Most commonly, people who suffer from excessive sweating, hyperhidrosis, use the method. However, our iontophoresis machine is also used by people in sports, who have milder symptoms of sweating, where sweat reduction gives positive results on performance, such as improved grip function.

Iontophoresis requires time and dedication, at least in the beginning, to get the right settings and thus the best effect. If you know that you do not have the patience or time but instead you are looking for a quick fix, iontophoresis is not the method for you. Over time, once you get into the treatment and achieve what is called the "steady state", the desired effect, you can perform the treatments more seldom and the treatment becomes less time and energy-consuming.

The scientific studies made are mainly focused on hands, armpits, and sometimes feet. There are indications that some individuals have had a good effect when treating other areas, such as the face, but it has not been studied to the same extent.

If you perform the treatments correctly, you can expect (on average) about 12 treatments before noticing a large reduction of sweating in the treated area. Many feel that they now sweat normally and experience an improved quality of life.

Our iontophoresis machine is powered by batteries and is not connected to the wall socket when performing a treatment, as a precautionary measure. If you follow the regulations, not to perform treatments with metal implants your body (in the way of the current, ask us if you are unsure), have a pacemaker or if you are pregnant, you do not have to worry about iontophoresis being dangerous in any way.

Sure, it takes patience in the beginning, but really it's pretty simple. Watch our instructional video to find out more or contact us if you have more questions.

Do not use the machine if you are pregnant (as there are no studies on whether this is safe), have a pacemaker or metal implant in your body (in the way of the current, ask us if you are unsure).