What is Iontophoresis? Understanding Electrotherapy for Sweat

If you suffer from the excessive sweating condition known as hyperhidrosis, you might be considering different medical treatments to curb your sweaty symptoms. Iontophoresis is a practical option for people with certain types of hyperhidrosis. But before you decide to undergo a medical procedure, you should know what you’re getting yourself into.

Here’s everything you need to know about iontophoresis, how it works and what to expect from the procedure.

What is Iontophoresis?

Iontophoresis is a form of electrical stimulation used to treat hyperhidrosis and some types of injuries.

It's an effective option for treating palmoplantar hyperhidrosis – excessive sweating of the hands and feet. It’s also used to treat axillary hyperhidrosis, or excessive armpit sweating, but isn’t quite as successful. (It’s more difficult to pass the electrical current to the armpits due to the shape of the underarms.)

During the procedure, you submerge your hands or feet in shallow pans of water or attach special water-soaked pads to your armpits. Tap water is commonly used for iontophoresis. Some people report getting better results by adding salt to the water to increase conductivity.

A medical device passes a mild electrical current through the water to your skin’s surface. The current passes one way for a certain amount of time and reverses for the same amount of time.

What Does Iontophoresis Feel Like?

Compared to many other hyperhidrosis treatment options, iontophoresis is relatively painless and simple. Each session lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

Your doctor will turn on the machine and increase the current until you feel a slight tingling sensation. The sensation might feel like a tiny pinprick or bee sting.

When the treatment is complete, you might experience redness, dryness or rough skin in the affected area. You can combat these mild side effects with some moisturizing lotion.

How Does Iontophoresis Help Excessive Sweating?

Doctors aren’t entirely sure why iontophoresis helps reduce excessive sweating. There are a few theories that make sense:

  • The electrical current and minerals in the water act together to thicken the outer layer of the skin and block sweat from flowing.
  • The current may disrupt nerve transmission, preventing sweat ducts from functioning properly.
  • Iontophoresis decreases the pH value in the sweat glands, making them more acidic and reducing the amount of sweat produced.

Whatever the reason is, iontophoresis is one of the more effective sweat solutions on the market. Research shows that iontophoresis has a success rate of up to 85 percent for patients with palmoplantar hyperhidrosis and up to 70 percent for patients with axillary hyperhidrosis.

Does Iontophoresis Cure Hyperhidrosis?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for hyperhidrosis. Iontophoresis can help control your symptoms if you have certain types of hyperhidrosis, but it requires consistent, regular treatments if you want to see results.

You might undergo several sessions per week in the doctor’s or dermatologist’s office until you start to notice a difference in your sweating. Once you see improvements, you can decrease your treatments to once per week. You can also buy a portable iontophoresis machine to use at home.

Want more? See our complete guide to hyperhidrosis treatments.

A Better Hyperhidrosis Solution

Iontophoresis is a promising solution for people with certain types of hyperhidrosis. But if axillary hyperhidrosis has your armpits constantly drenched in sweat, iontophoresis might not be enough to relieve you.

Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars and committing to weekly treatments that aren’t guaranteed to work, try wearing a Thompson Tee. Designed specifically for people with hyperhidrosis, the Thompson Tee features Hydro-Shield sweat proof technology in the armpits to block sweat from seeping through your clothes. The comfortable sweat proof fabric is guaranteed to keep you cool and dry in any situation.

Stop worrying about distracting sweat marks ruining your favorite shirts again. Try a Thompson Tee risk-free and see how it works for yourself!

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