Iontophoresis for Excessive Sweating

  • Best Results5-10 sessions
  • Treatment RecoveryNA
  • Procedure Time5-12 minutes
  • Skin SpecialistNurse Practitioner
  • Duration of Results1-4 days
  • AnaestheticNA
  • Back to WorkNA
  • Cost$

Iontophoresis for Excessive Sweating

Iontophoresis treatment for excessive sweating can be successful in up to 80% of cases. This is a safe treatment for sweating of the hands & feet. Iontophoresis uses water to conduct a tiny electrical current. This reduces sweat production. Most patients will require several treatments to see if iontophoresis works for them.

FactsFacts on Iontophoresis for Excessive Sweating

  • This treatment is ideal for excessive sweating of the hands & feet
  • The success rate varies between 60-80%
  • It works by blocking sweat glands with minerals passed thru an electrical current via an iontophoresis machine
  • Treatments take a few minutes to perform
  • Addition of topical glycopyrrolate increases efficacy
  • 2 to 3 sessions are performed weekly
  • Iontophoresis sessions can be reduced once sweating is minimised

What is iontophoresis?

Iontophoresis is the next step for patients who suffer from excessive sweating of the hands & feet who do not respond to antiperspirants. This treatment has been in use for many decades and can be effective in up to 60-80% of palmar & plantar hyperhidrosis- sweating of the hands and feet.

Iontophoresis uses water to conduct a mild electrical current to the sweat gland unit. Over time the sweat glands reduce production of sweat. This treatment temporarily blocks sweat production.

How does iontophoresis work?

Many theories have been postulated over the decades about how this treatment works. We initially thought that iontophoresis blocked the sweat gland with keratin, causing a plug at the surface of the eccrine (sweat) unit. This has been dispelled. We now think that iontophoresis works by passing charged particles into the sweat gland, causing it to reduce sweat production.

For scientists & chemistry majors out there- iontophoresis may transfer ions to cause a chemical change within the eccrine units to increase the threshold for sympathetic nerve impulse, essentially changing the cellular secretory physiology of the sweat gland.

What types of sweating can be treated with iontophoresis?

This treatment is best suited for sweating of the hands & feet- palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. Typically, 60-80% of patients who suffer excessive sweating in these areas respond to this treatment. Once sweating stops, iontophoresis treatments can be reduced. In some cases, patients only need to perform the procedure once every 12-14 days.

Underarm sweating or axillary hyperhidrosis can also respond to iontophoresis, however the use of underarm pads is needed. Iontophoresis in this area has a lower success rate compared to sweat stopping treatments.

Does iontophoresis work for excessive underarm sweating?

Excessive underarm sweating may respond to iontophoresis with the use of special underarm pads. The success rate for iontophoresis in this area is not as good as the hands and feet. Other treatments such as anti-sweat injections have a much higher success rate. Sweat stopping treatments for the treatment of underarm sweating is now on the PBS, and claimable through Medicare.

Davin’s Viewpoint on Iontophoresis for Excessive Sweating

Iontophoresis is the next step if antiperspirants don’t work. Ionto is best suited for excessive sweating of the hands & feet, however it can also be used for excessive sweating of the underarms. The success rate for iontophoresis is in the order of 80%. Most commonly we start with tap water with a pinch of sodium bicarbonate. Brisbane has hard water with many minerals, so the addition of salts is minimal.

If this fails, your dermatologist can compound chemicals to further block sweating. The addition of glycopyrrolate to the solution is more effective than tap water alone and will result in remission rates of up to 2 weeks following iontophoresis (most commonly a few days).

Botox injections can be used on the hands; however this treatment is best suited for excessive underarm sweating as it is covered under Medicare. Injections to the hands & feet can be effective in up to 90% of patients, however it only lasts 3-4 months, and it is not covered under the PBS, unlike its use for underarm sweating. Botulinum toxin can also be used in solution, this treatment is academic & not practical due to the costs- over $1000 for 2 litres of solution.

If patients fail iontophoresis, ETS or endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is the next step, and an opinion from a Vascular Surgeon is valued.

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