Iontophoresis and Hyperhidrosis
The use of electricity in medicine dates back centuries. Since 1952, iontophoresis has been used for the treatment of palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. Iontophoresis involves the use of electrical current to deliver ionized matter through the skin. The exact mechanism of action is still unclear, but it is thought that the interaction between the electric current, pH levels, and ionic movement found in tap water possibly creates a prolonged interruption in sweat gland function and conduction thus giving temporary relief to those suffering from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).
So far, historical studies have not shown any plugging of the pores or impairing of the electrochemical gradient of sweat secretion in those individuals. Commercial iontophoresis devices have been available since the 1980’s for home use in the treatment of hyperhidrosis.
This is one of the alternative methods that a patient can try for the treatment of palmar (hand) and plantar (foot) hyperhidrosis. Applications may vary, but typically these devices have to be used a few times a week for periods of up to 30 minutes. The device provides a direct current of 15 to 20 mA. Achieving euhidrosis (Normal Sweating) is difficult to obtain.
The required frequency of use can vary from one person to another. It is very difficult to obtain definite control of the sweating symptoms, and different investigators suggest changes of the electric current direction, or the intensity. So far very few studies, with a very small number of patients, have shown limited success.
Adverse affects of iontophoresis are generally minimal. They include irritation, dryness and peeling of skin, vesicles in the short but not long term, redness, burning, and stinging sensations that usually resolve themselves when the therapy is finished.
Recently instead of using tap water in the iontophoresis devices, researches started to use anticholinergic solutions to increase the effect of the iontophoresis machine. So far, not too many studies have confirmed the superiority of this treatment, which can cause the same side effects mentioned above. Dry types of iontophoretic devices were also used, but so far very limited clinical evidence is available.
There are two main devices in the market now. The most commonly used is the Drionic (General Medical Co., Los Angeles, California – www.drionic.com).
Another device is made by The Fischer MD-1a (R.A. Fischer Co., Northridge, California – www.rafischer.com). Those devices also have an axillary pad for the treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis.
From all of the above it is an obvious conclusion that the success reducing those iontophoresis machines is very much based on the individual person. The tolerance to the pain (mild or otherwise) is user dependent and also the necessary time needed for good results is very different from one person to another. The necessity for daily usage is a time consuming process that not everyone can afford so basically one can try it even though the overall results are not good. So far pain and the need for frequent use are the main drawbacks for the usage of those machines on a continuous basis and also it was never shown to have a good rate of success.
Iontophoresis Machine Rental
It is now possible to rent the Drionic and Fischer machines on a weekly basis. This will allow people to try this device to see if any benefits can be obtained. Arrangements can be made with the manufacturer. It is recommended that you save the receipt to ensure proof of attempted conservative treatment.
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