Iontophoresis for treating hyperhidrosis

Written by: Sandra Eriksson Mirkovic, MD with special interest in hyperhidrosis.

Iontophoresis is a treatment that has been used to treat excessive sweating of palms and feet for several decades. Studies have shown that continuous use of an iontophoresis machine is an effective way to treat excessive sweating, hyperhidrosis. The mechanism of how iontophoresis acts to reduce the sweating is not fully know but theories say that the ions of the water forms a mechanic block that stops the sweat from reaching the skin surface. The way in which a iontophoresis device works is acctually very simple. The machine consists of a mild power supply with and electric current that can be controlled by the user. This power supply is connected to a water bath. One puts his/her palms or feet in this water bath and the power is then turned on.

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One sits like this for 20-30 minutes. In the beginning one can repeat the treatment every day and then gradually more seldom but usually at least once a week. Some people experience and effect after only a few treatments but usually it takes 8-12 treatments (often with a few days in between) before full effect is accomplished. We at Hidroxa have therefore decided to give a full refund withing 50 days on our machine, to make sure each client gets to test the machine and make sure that this method suits you. There are several methods of treating excessive sweating in palms and feet: Aluminium Chloride, Botox, different kinds of medication (see the chapter about hyperhidrosis).

To see how a treatment should be performed, see our instructional video for iontophoresis.

It seems to be quite hard today to find clinics that will help you treat your hyperhidrosis. We are most familiar with the situation in Sweden but we know that this is often the case in other countries as well. For some reason this diagnosis is missunderstood and not taken seriously in many cases. One of the advantages with the iontophoresis method is that it has few side effects and most of all one is not depending on a clinic to get ones treatment. Iontophoresis is not tested on pregnant women and therefore this method should not be used during pregnancy. Breastfeeding and using the machine is ok. Iontophoresis machines should not be used if one has a pacemaker or a metal implant in ones body. It is important to know that treating your hyperhidrosis with an iontophoresis machine requires patience and motivation. One has to continue the treatments even after receiving a good result of treatment. Otherwise the effect will quickly disappear. We at Hidroxa believe that an iontophoresis device can be a good alternative to Botox treatments in cases one does not have access to those treatments. It can also be an alternative if one is afraid of needles or if one lives far away from a Hyperhidrosis clinic.

10 common questions about iontophoresis and iontophoresis machines

1.What is iontophoresis?

Answer: Iontophoresis is a method of treating excessive sweating. It is a machine that uses a very low electrical current to treat excessive sweating. You put your hands or feet in two seperate water bath and the current passes through your body. Alternatively, for other body parts, e.g. armpits electrodes (that have been soaked in water) are put in the area one wishes to treat. It is a machine designed primarily for use at home.

2.How does iontophoresis work?

Answer:No one knows for certain how it works, but one hypothesis is that the ions in the water form a mechanical blockade that prevent the sweat from getting 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 decreased acitivity in the glands. You can watch our instructional video for how our iontophoresis device work.

3.Does iontophoresis work for everyone?

Answer:Iontophoresis can have a good effect on excessive sweating in up to 90% of the patients when the method is used correctly.

4. Are iontophoresis a method that you would recommend to everyone?

Answer: Iontophoresis requires time and dedication, at least in the beginning, to get the right settings and thus the best possible effect. If you know that you are not the patient kind or that you lack time then we believe iontophoresis is not for you. Over time, when you get used to the treatment and when you have reached what is called steady state, the desired effect, you can perform the treatments less often and it becomes less time / energy consuming.

5.What body parts can you treat with iontophoresis?

Answer: The studies that have made have focused on the palms and feet. Minor studies have been performed on iontophoresis treatment of the armpits and there is evidence that some individuals have had a good effect when treating e.g. the face

6.What results can you expect when performing treatments with iontophoresis?

Answer: f you do the treatments correctly, after about 12 treatments (on average) you can count on significantly less sweating of the treated areas. Most patients experience a clear improvement in quality of life.

7.Are iontophoresis devices dangerous?

Answer: Our iontophoresis machine is powered by batteries and is not plugged into the wall socket when performing a treatment. This is to prevent coming into contact with the mains voltage (230V) due to any malfunction of the device. If you follow the manual and do not use the device if you have metal implants in your body, are pregnant and so on (See the manual), you don’t have to worry that iontophoresis is harmful in any way.

8.Are there any contraindications for using iontophoresis?

Answer: For complete information see the manual. You should not use the machine if you are pregnant (since it has not been studied if the method is safe to use during pregnancy), a pacemaker or metal implant in your body.

9. Are there any side effects from iontophoresis?

Answer: You may experience a discomfort on your skin when performing a treatment but it should not hurt. If so, we recommend that you check and lower the power level. Otherwise, the skin may turn red and get irritated. If you have a small wounds/ulcers or damage of the skin on the area you are considering to treat, cover it with vaseline to protect your skin.

10. Is it difficult to succeed with iontophoresis treatments?

Answer:Certainly, it requires patience at first but it's actually very simple. Watch our instructional video to learn more. Good luck!

Written by: Sandra Eriksson Mirkovic, MD with special interest in hyperhidrosis.

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Link to scientific article about hyperhidrosis: Scientific article published in Dermatology Journal Online about hyperhidrosis and iontophoresis