When the first line of hyperhidrosis treatment fails, such as deodorants and antiperspirants, a device called iontophoresis can also be used against excessive sweating. First introduced in 1952, iontophoresis is an inexpensive treatment for hyperhidrosis, which patients can use even at home. But some people who suffer from hyperhidrosis are afraid that the electric charges may be painful or dangerous.
What Is Iontophoresis?
Iontophoresis is a medical technique using a small machine where mild electric charges are passed into the body using tap water. The device called drionics or iontophoresis-therapy machine is plugged into an electric box with low voltage and is battery-operated so there is no fear of electric shocks. It sends only weak electric charges with ionic components to disable or shock the sweat glands. It is commonly used for the treatment of hands and feet but for problem areas like the armpits. Iontophoresis pads can also be bought.
How Iontophoresis Works
The procedure for iontophoresis is easy and very convenient to use for home treatment.
- Fill the shallow plates with water. The electrode plates are usually made of medical grade stainless steel.
- Let the patient immerse hands or feet while sitting.
- Perform the procedure for 20 to 40 minutes and repeat it every other day within 5 to 10 days or until you observe that sweating is reduced.
- Maintenance schedule of once a week or one every month can be done to maintain dryness.
- If sweating recurs, iontophoresis must be repeated.
Things to Remember when Using Iontophoresis
Here are some important notes to remember before and when using iontophoresis for hyperhidrosis treatment.
- Before using the machine, carefully read the warnings and instructions in the operator’s manual. You can also ask for someone to demonstrate or coach you on how to use the device effectively.
- Do not place electrodes on broken skin or cuts. This will reduce electrode resistance and patient will experience localized higher current concentration or electric shock.
- If the tap water is too soft, which means that it doesn’t contain enough minerals or electrolytes, add a teaspoon of baking soda. Electrolytes are tiny particles which aid the electric current to pass through the water and into the skin.
- If tap water and baking soda still do not work, anticholinergic can be used as supplementary to the water. This is effective and sends your sweaty palms and feet.
- Expectant mothers, pacemaker patients and those with metal implants, cardiac patients or epileptics should not use iontophoresis.
- Before iontophoresis, jewelry or any material that might conduct electric currents in the body must be removed.
- Moisturizers are recommended if excessive dryness persist.
- To avoid irritation, apply Vaseline or petroleum jelly on any abrasion, cuts or wounds in the hands or feet before iontophoresis.
- To ease any skin irritation that has already occurred during iontophoresis , apply 1% hydrocortisone cream to the affected part.
- If any pain or tingling sensation is felt during treatment, patient must notify the physician.
- Before turning the machine on, adjust the current output to zero or minimum. Place the electrode and attach the wires to the electrode before turning the machine on. Do the same before turning it off. Never unplug the Iontophoresis machine electrodes or detach the lead wires until the power has been turned off.
Where to Buy an Iontophoresis Machine
Iontophoresis or drionics machines are used in clinics but are also available for home treatment. The cost of one machine is less than $1000. You can check the following popular brands and distributors’ websites of iontophoresis:
- Drionic (drionic.com)
- The Fischer MD-1a (rafisher.com)
- Idromed (drhornlr.de)
- Idrostar (iontophoresis.info)
- Hidrex (hidrex.de)
Iontophoresis may not be the best remedy for hyperhidrosis but it can reduce excessive sweating and is less risky than surgery. After all if you have hyperhidrosis, any inexpensive and noninvasive treatment is certainly brings hope of temporary cure.