About Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis for Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is the medical term given to severe excessive sweating it affects aproximately 4% of the population, it can occur almost anywhere on the body and can affect all genders and ages, although it is most common in teenagers and young adults.

The are two main forms of Hyperhidrosis – primary and secondary.
Primary Hyperhidrosis is when excessive sweating is localised e.g. palms of hands, soles of feet, underarms, face and scalp. This type of excessive sweating is not caused by another medical condition, nor is it the side effect of medications, the excessive sweating is the medical condition itself.
Secondary Hyperhidrosis is generally caused by another underlying medical condition, or can be the side effect of a medication, sufferers of Secondary Hyperhidrosis generally experience sweating on a larger scale.

The affects of Hyperhidrosis are devastating and sadly all too often dismissed as insignificant and of little serious consequence. The sufferer can experience serious social embarrassment and often will go to extreme measures in order to hide the condition. Many do not realise that the condition even exists, they merely assume they just sweat a lot and do not realise that their excessive sweating can be controlled.

Used by medical professionals the world over since the 1920s, iontophoresis is a safe,  painless and non-invasive process, initially devised as a method of delivering  medicine through the skin (trans-dermal drug delivery). Since the 1940s, the process has been used without medicine as an effective method of controlling excessive sweating.

Iontophoresis is used by doctors, skin specialists and healthcare professionals in hospitals, clinics and dermatology departments worldwide.

Iontophoresis is an extremely effective, drug-free method of treatment for excessive sweating and it has been used for treating all types of Hyperhidrosis since the 1930s.

How Iontophoresis Works

The short answer is, no one knows exactly how iontophoresis treatments work, nor why they work so well, but tap water Iontophoresis can substantially improve, or in some cases even eliminate excessive sweating within a relatively short period of time, without the use of any drugs, surgical procedures or any serious adverse side effects.

One line of thought is that the mild currents passed into the treatment area temporarily ‘jam’ the electrical signals sent by the nervous system that tells the gland to secrete sweat. Individual results can vary, but Iontophoresis has been found to be successful in 99.73% of patients supplied machines by IontoCentre from January 2010 to January 2011*.

Success rates vary for different treatment areas. Lower success rates are often found in hospitals due to the limitations of treatment lengths. Most clinics offer only 6 treatment and for some, this is not adequate enough to ensure results.

No prescription is required.
All our iontophoresis machines are designed for home-based solo treatments as well as being used by professionals in clinics and dermatology departments.

Small, relatively weak electrical currents are conducted via tap water and are passed into the treatment area and regulated by the control panel. It is also thought that a positive effect is attained by raising the stimulus threshold of the sweat gland secretion nerve endings via means of light, electro-stimulation of the Sympathetic Nervous System, (in particular the Thoracic Sympathetic Ganglion Chain). This stimulation controls and limits the release of Acetylcholine (ACH) which is a chemical neurotransmitter that tells the body to sweat. When too much ACH is produced there is an over-reaction and over production of sweat from the gland. Control the release of ACH and you will control the amount of sweat produced.

If you are treating the hands for example you will place the hands into treatment trays that are shallow filled with tap water and each side of the trays will contain either a positive or a negative electrode plate, connected to the control panel from which current flows. There are two types of current flow; Direct or Pulsed and we supply machines that operate in either direct or pulsed or both modes.

Generally, tap water is an adequate enough conductor to pass the current into the treatment area, and coupled with the electrical mA created by the devices, is all that is required for most people to receive a successful treatment. In some rare cases, the addition of a 0.05% solution of Glycopyrronium Bromide is added to the trays to amplify the effects.

Glycopyrronium Bromide is an Cholinergic substance that is able to alter the bodies Acetylcholine production. It is a controlled substance and so only available on prescription from a doctor and should only be used on advice from a medical professional. Illegally obtained Glycopyrronium Bromide from overseas websites can be dangerous.

If using Glycopyrronium Bromide then power levels on the machines must be reduced significantly for treatments. If issues with conductivity are encountered try adding a small amount of bicarbonate soda to water trays. Do not use water that has been passed through a water softener.

*Data taken from total units supplied direct from IontoCentre between specified dates and includes only professional grade units (Hidrex & Idromed)

Using Your Iontophoresis Machine

Each machine comes with its own manufacturer recommended treatment methods and time scales. We will help you with a treatment plan based on your individual needs, if required but standardised treatment plans are provided with the machines. These plans are based upon sound experience gained from being directly involved with hundreds of patients each year and providing the support they needed for success.

The first stage is the treatment stage and this requires perseverance and on occasion, alteration of treatment plans to see the result and improvement in your condition that you require. Once you are at a point where your skin is dry and you no longer sweat excessively, you move onto the maintenance stage. Generally speaking in the first instance, a series of short, 20-minute treatments are made daily for the first ten to fourteen days after which, when improvements are seen, treatment frequency is reduced gradually, for example, 20 minutes every other day, every third, then weekly, two weekly and three weekly sessions. Some users after the treatment stage only need to perform a 20-minute session every month or so.

On your first treatment, start with low power and slowly build the voltage / mA levels until you feel tingling in the region. Back the power level down a notch and continue treatment at this level. You will be able to alter as you wish but always remain within comfortable limits. This will be the level at which you know you can comfortably perform therapies and you will not be required to start low each time you run a treatment.

The machines are fitted with various safety limits, circuit protections and over-treatment cut-outs. The maintenance stage is where you reduce frequency of treatments from daily to for example, once weekly or fortnightly treatments. This allows you to maintain the results achieved. Individual severity of sweat problem will determine how often treatments will need to be made, but regular ‘maintenance’ treatments will help ensure sweating levels are kept in check. Quite often you will begin to notice sweat levels slowly returning which will indicate that treatment is due. If you stop the treatment and fail to keep up with the sessions, sweating levels will return to pre-treatment levels.

The Hidrex and Idromed devices come in either DC (direct current) only or DC & PC (direct & pulsed current) models and are mains powered. Pulsed current Iontophoresis is newer technology and so pulsed iontophoresis machines typically have increased additional features and programs to those found on standard DC machines.

Treatments using pulsed current technology are recommended for sensitive skin types as they are less likely to cause discomfort and will provide a more comfortable treatment period. Our recommendations on machine selection is as follows;
If you are treating feet then opt for a direct current machine. If treating the hands and or underarms, then consider a pulsed current machine as it will be more comfortable. If you have sensitive skin, are aged between 5 and 18, or are treating sensitive areas such as the face, neck, torso, etc. then you should seriously look at a pulsed current device.

All machines can be used in all areas, but if a direct current is uncomfortable then you will not be able to maintain an effective treatment level in order to control sweating. Typically the higher the mA or Voltage you can operate at the quicker/longer-lasting/effective the treatment will be.

All machines featured are capable of excellent results but you will need to follow instructions for use and if you need help, just ask!