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 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. This offers temporary relief to those suffering from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).

Historical studies have not shown any blockage in 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 their 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 maintain with this kind of regime.

The required frequency of use can vary from one person to another. It is very difficult to obtain definite control of your symptoms. Different investigators suggest changes to the electric current direction or the intensity. 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 the skin. You may also experience vesicles in the short-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, researchers started to use anticholinergic solutions to increase the effect of the iontophoresis machine. So far, very few 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 very limited clinical evidence is available.

There are two main devices on the market now. The most commonly used one is the Drionic (General Medical Co., Los Angeles, California – www.drionic.com).

The other device is The Fischer MD-1a (R.A. Fischer Co., Northridge, California – www.rafischer.com). These devices also have an axillary pad for the treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis.

The success in reducing symptoms with iontophoresis machines is very much based on the individual person. The tolerance to the pain (mild or otherwise) is user dependent. The necessary time needed for consistent results is very different from one person to another as well.

The necessity for daily usage is a time-consuming process that not everyone can afford. These downsides, along with the potential side effects, make this an unreliable solution for many people.

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 it works for their hyperhidrosis. Arrangements can be made with the manufacturer. It is recommended that you save the receipt to ensure proof of attempted conservative treatment.

This will allow you to make a better case with insurance companies if you decide to pursue surigcal treatment in the future.

Learn more about the procedures:

Iontophoresis – Guide to Hyperhidrosis Electric Treatment