If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, you might feel like no treatment exists to prevent sweat from impacting your quality of life. Antiperspirant and home remedies can't curb your sweating problem, so you might turn to medical treatments for hyperhidrosis, such as iontophoresis.
Before you invest time and money into iontophoresis, you should know what it is, how the treatment works, how much it costs, and what results you can expect.
What Is Iontophoresis?
Iontophoresis is a widely used form of electrotherapy that treats painful injuries, scar tissue, and certain types of hyperhidrosis. Doctors have been using iontophoresis since the 1940s.
Although the process involves electrical current, it is tolerable and painless, causing a mild tingling sensation. Also, the voltage isn't strong enough to damage your skin.
How Does Iontophoresis Work?
During iontophoresis, a medical device passes a mild electrical current through water (using shallow pans or special pads) to your skin’s surface. Each treatment lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Usually, it takes 2 to 3 treatments per week until you achieve the desired results. Then, you’ll be switched to a maintenance schedule (once per week).
Iontophoresis commonly uses tap water; however, tap water in some locations may not contain enough minerals or electrolytes to be effective. Moreover, treatment techniques will vary depending on the device.
Before starting iontophoresis, we advise consulting your doctor first.
Does Iontophoresis Work for Hyperhidrosis?
Iontophoresis is an effective option for treating palmoplantar hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating of the hands and feet. It also treats axillary hyperhidrosis, or excessive armpit sweating. It is recommended for people who have tried prescription or clinical strength antiperspirants but need a more potent treatment.
How Effective Is Iontophoresis?
Compared to more invasive hyperhidrosis treatments, iontophoresis for hyperhidrosis is relatively safe and effective.
Clinical studies show that the iontophoresis success rate is between 81% and 91% for patients with palmoplantar hyperhidrosis and up to 70% for axillary hyperhidrosis patients.
The effects of iontophoresis treatments lessen over time. You must follow a regular maintenance schedule to see continued results. Doctors usually recommend weekly treatments for hyperhidrosis patients.
It's important to note that iontophoresis is not a permanent solution for hyperhidrosis. You have to commit to lifelong weekly treatments if you want to keep your sweating symptoms at bay. If you travel frequently or have a demanding job, you'll need to decide if iontophoresis is a realistic solution.
Who Should Avoid Iontophoresis?
While iontophoresis is a generally safe procedure, you should avoid iontophoresis if you have one or more of the following conditions:
- A history of seizures or epilepsy
- A heart condition or pacemaker
- Metal implants
You should also postpone iontophoresis if you have recent wounds, scars or skin grafts in the area requiring treatment. These situations might cause the procedure to be painful and less effective.
What Are the Iontophoresis Side Effects?
The most common side effect of iontophoresis is dry or rough skin. Blistering, peeling and irritation may occur, but you can combat these side effects by applying moisturizer after each session.
Other iontophoresis side effects include:
- Burning sensation or small blisters
- Tingling and stinging sensations
- Muscle numbness
How Much Does Iontophoresis Cost?
One iontophoresis session in a doctor's office will run you approximately $150. You can also buy a portable iontophoresis machine, such as Dermadry, to use at home.
Iontophoresis devices cost anywhere from $500 to $950 or more to purchase. You can also rent an iontophoresis device for around $100 to $150 per month. The cost varies depending on the power source, size and strength of the machine.
Does Insurance Cover Iontophoresis?
Most health insurance providers in the U.S. consider iontophoresis for hyperhidrosis a medically necessary treatment, so you should check with your provider to see if they will cover the cost.
An Alternative to Iontophoresis
There are many treatments available for excessive sweating, but not all are created equal. If you specifically suffer from excessive underarm sweating (axillary hyperhidrosis), ionotophoresis may not be as effective.
The Thompson Tee was made for people with hyperhidrosis, by people with hyperhidrosis. It’s the only patented sweat proof undershirt guaranteed to prevent underarm sweat marks from seeping through to your outer layer. The Hydro-Shield sweat proof technology completely absorbs and evaporates sweat to keep you cool and dry throughout the day.