Iontophoresis assists in the delivery of medications into the tissues beneath the skin by electronic transport of ionized drugs in solution. In simple terms, Iontophoresis is a medical treatment that is a widely accepted practice for people suffering from Hyperhydrosis specifically in the areas of their armpits, hands, and feet. The procedure is pretty much pain free, non-invasive, and involves a device that is connected to two trays if you are having your feet or hands (sweaty palms) treated, or two pads if you are treating excessive armpit sweat. Most people that seek Iontophoresis treatment do so because they have previously tried prescription strength deodorants such as Sweat Block and Driclor without success. Iontophoresis has proved to have quite a high success rate according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If treatment of sweaty palms (palmar hyperhidrosis) and sweaty feet (plantar hyperhidrosis) is administered correctly and to the patient’s specifications, a success rate of 83% has been recorded.
It is not completely understood how Iontophoresis works, but since it uses water to create a mild electrical current that goes through the skin’s surface, the theory is that the mineral particles found in water, coupled with the electrical current, help thicken the outer layer of your skin. Once your skin has thickened it helps to block the flow of sweat to the surface of your palms or feet which in turn stops your feet and palms from becoming wet and sweaty, and this happens almost instantly after treatment.
Iontophoresis side effects
Even though quite a few side effects have been noted when undergoing iontophoresis treatment for hyperhidrosis, most of the side effects are not drastic enough to warrant discontinuation of treatment. In most cases some of the side effects can be combated with proper preparation. The most common side effects are vesiculation (blistering) of the skin, pins and needles, and erythema (redness of the skin). Vesiculation only happens in about 7 % of patients, pins and needles represents 18%, and erythema just less than 10%. Dryness and redness of the skin can be treated with a 1% hydrocortisone cream, or other moisturizing cream and normally clears up very quickly.
The frequency of the iontophoresis treatments may be reduced if one or more of the above mentioned side effects occurs, but in general iontophoresis side effects are very minimal and either preventable or curable with a bit of cream or petroleum jelly. The machines used for iontophoresis are safety checked on a regular basis and are designed so that the electric current is very small making it very unlikely that you will hurt yourself during this procedure.
How to Administer Iontophoresis Effectively
During the procedure patients usually sit with their hands and/or feet immersed in shallow trays of water for between 20 and 40 minutes. During this period of time the iontophoresis device sends a mild electrical current through the water. Each treatment session is performed every other day for a new patient, and continues for about a week to ten days, at which point you should see a noticeable difference in the reduction of sweat in the hands and/or feet. Once you and your doctor are satisfied with the results, and your excessive sweating is reduced to a comfortable level, you can be switched to an ongoing preventative maintenance program. Admittedly this sounds a bit like a car mechanic suggesting your bring your car in to the shop every 3,000 miles for a check up, but, and in a sense it is similar! Once your desired dryness level has been achieved, and depending on how active your sweat glands are, you may need iontophoresis treatment once a week, once every two weeks, or even once a month. As soon as you notice the sweat and wetness coming back, you must try and undergo another iontophoresis for hyperhidrosis treatment as soon as possible to maintain dryness.