Iontophoresis is a method of therapy that is used to help individuals that have problems with excessive sweating. This condition is known as hyperhidrosis
and people who have it usually have to deal with a wet handshakes, damp patches under the underarms, or wet and smelly feet. Hyperhidrosis often leads to personality issues such as social isolation, fear of contact, and even inferiority complexes. It is estimated that about 3% of the world's total population suffer from hyperhidrosis.
Because there is no cure for hyperhidrosis, iontophoresis therapy was developed to help successfully treat the condition. Iontophoresis therapy does not require the use of drugs or surgery to treat hyperhidrosis and people suffering from excessive sweating can easily purchase an iontophoresis device for treatment.
In the initial stages of treatment, one is required to treat the affected parts of the body once a day for about minutes. In most cases, it takes about 5 to 20 consecutive days of treatment in order to reduce moisture content of the skin to normal levels. Once the initial stage of treatment is finished, the frequency of treatment sessions can be reduced,
Some iontophoresis units
use direct current (DC) whereas others use pulsed current (PC). Most professionals recommend the use of a device with PC because it allows the patient to stand higher levels of current with less discomfort. A simple rule of thumb with iontophoresis is that, when the current is higher, the maintenance treatment sessions are fewer. It has been proven that the PC devices produce a lower current sensitivity compared to DC devices. As a result of lower sensitivity, skin is less likely to become irritated and greater sweat reduction can be achieved. This makes PC devices a suitable choice for people with sensitive skin or children. Because PC units produces less irritation, it is especially useful when treating the underarms and can be used on higher voltage or mA settings without fear of increased discomfort.
How Iontophoresis Works
Iontophoresis involves the use of a simple device for the feet and hands. Iontophoresis is primarily used by individuals that have tried using prescription strength antiperspirants without success. This therapy method of treatment makes use of water in order to conduct a mild electrical current via the surface of the skin. Even though it is actually difficult to understand exactly how the process works, it is believed that the electric current plus the mineral particles in the water collaborate to microscopically thicken the outer layer of the skin and block the flow of sweat. As soon as the flow of sweat is interrupted, production of sweat on the palms and soles is turned off drastically and suddenly. It has been proven that iontophoresis has a high success rate among individuals with sweaty feet and sweaty palms. The success rate of iontophoresis, as documented by the American Academy of Dermatology, is estimated at 83%.
In order to apply iontophoresis treatment effectively, patients are advised to sit with either their hands, feet, or both plunged into shallow trays of water. Feet and hands should sit in the water for about 20 to 40 minutes as the iontophoresis device transmits a mild electrical current through the water. The process should be repeated for about five to ten days until sweating is reduced to a level that the patient feels comfortable with.
After the initial treatment period, the patient is expected to take up a maintenance schedule which involves repeating the same process on a weekly or monthly basis. Patients are advised to repeat the iontophoresis process immediately when the sweating returns to enable them to maintain dryness. Patients in geographic locations with soft water may need to add a teaspoon of baking soda to water before beginning treatment. The reason for adding baking soda is is because soft water does not contain many of the minerals necessary to help the electric current to travel via water to the skin. If baking soda does not work, a prescription medicine called anticholinergic can be used.
Even though Iontophoresis is quite effective for treating sweaty hands and feet, there are certain occasions when it should not be used. Pregnant women, individuals with substantial metal implants (like joint replacements), people with epilepsy, and people with cardiac conditions are discouraged from using iontophoresis. All jewelry should be removed before using the treatment, and abrasions and cuts should be covered with a barrier ointment like Vaseline to prevent irritation.
Most patients worry about getting an electric shock during Iontophoresis. It is best to seek advice from your doctor as he can tell you the best method to use to avoid getting shocked.
In case the skin gets irritated during Iontophoresis, it is advisable to use a simple 1% hydrocortisone cream. Iontophoresis can not only be used for excessive sweating
on hands and feet but also for Hyperhidrosis of the underarm. When treating the underarm area, it is important to be especially careful because the skin is particularly prone to irritation.
Overall, though, it is important to try to find the counsel of a healthcare expert that will be able to tutor you on the proper usage of iontophoresis. Your doctor will help you determine whether it is the best treatment for you. He/she will then give you a prescription for an iontophoresis machine for home use if you decide to purchase a device that is manufactured in America. If you decide to purchase a Hidrex or Idromed machine from Germany, then you do not need a prescription.
Possible Side Effects
It is only natural that people who are just beginning to use iontophoresis worry about possible side effects of these treatments. Luckily, the side effects of Iontophoresis are quite minimal, however, it has been argued that the sensations many patients feel after using the treatment should be counted as a side effect.
Most patients have reported feeling a unique sensation often described either as a tickling sensation or needles and pins sensation. On rare occasions, patients have described burning sensation. It is confirmed that if the voltage is turned too high, the sensation can be painful. Because of the possibility of pain during treatment, it is recommended that patients cover open wounds as the procedure may cause pain in these areas.
Some patients report vesiculation. This condition resembles small bubbles that appear on the skin, but, as a rule, they resolve quickly. It has been reported that only a few of patients using this procedure experience the side effect of bubbles on the skin. Besides bubbles on the skin, some patients report redness of the skin, especially at the waterline. Even though this is quite common, it is nothing to worry about as it is not only minor but also resolves quickly.
All in all, iontophoresis has been proven to be a successful treatment for individuals experiencing problems with sweating
. As mentioned earlier, though, it is advisable to first consult a doctor before beginning treatment. Consulting a doctor will enable you to determine whether the procedure is good for you and help you get a proper prescription for an iontophoresis device if you need one.