Iontophoresis Treatment Guide + Iontophoresis Machine Comparison

 

What is Iontophoresis?

Iontophoresis is a process that was designed to treat hyperhidrosis via an iontophoretic drug delivery system also known as an iontophoresis machine. Hyperhidrosis is a condition that affects approximately 7.8 million people from around the world, for each one of these people they have to go through the stigmatization and embarrassment of sweating in public.

Several treatment strategies have been developed and implemented in an effort to treat hyperhidrosis effectively and safely. These range from:

  • topical therapeutics (e.g. aluminium chloride in ethanol),
  • drugs which disrupt the anti-cholinergic system (e.g. glycopyrrolate),
  • botulinum toxin (i.e. Botox)
  • surgery

However, as you can imagine – these treatment options are fraught with limitations and adverse effects. For example, the anti-cholinergic drugs which are routinely used to control the symptoms of excessive perspiration are associated with a myriad of worrisome side-effects such as constipation, visual blurring, drowsiness, giddiness, dry eyes and dry mouth.

Even though Botox injections have seen a modest degree of success in ameliorating hyperhidrosis, they are limited by their high cost-burden and the need for multiple injections which can be painful – furthermore, each injection represents an invasive procedure that is associated with a small but not insignificant risk of bleeding and infection.

Surgical therapy in the form of an endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) is also an effective treatment modality for hyperhidrosis, but this is a drastic and costly measure that is typically reserved as an absolute last resort for patients who have debilitating hyperhidrosis and have failed all other treatment options available.

 

History of Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis is a form of technology which delivers a mild electric current through the skin (transdermally) and was originally developed to enhance the absorption of drugs which were applied topically on the skin itself. Iontophoresis isn’t novel; in fact, the technology has been utilized for palmar (hands) and plantar (feet) hyperhidrosis since the 1950s. Despite this, there has not been a widespread uptake of iontophoresis as a conventional treatment modality for hyperhidrosis, and therefore, there are no clinical practice guidelines that provide guidance on its duration and frequency.

Mechanism of Action

The mechanism of action of iontophoresis in the treatment of hyperhidrosis is still not completely well understood. Some research groups proposed that the ion flux induces changes in the structure of the exocrine sweat gland, but this has not been corroborated by electron microscopy examination. Similarly, it has been theorized that iontophoresis decreases the innervation density of the skin – but this has also not been corroborated by microscopic examination of the skin. The only promising theory so far, is that iontophoresis induces changes in the function of the exocrine sweat gland rather than its physical structure – specifically, the secretory mechanisms of the sweat gland have been shown to be less active after treatment.

Procedure for Iontophoresis

The iontophoretic device consists of 3 main components – a power source, an anode (-) and a cathode (+). Today, Iontophoresis is typically prescribed for 10 to 30 minutes per session, about 3 to 5 times per week. Studies have shown that Iontophoresis typically requires anywhere between 6 to 15 sessions for patients to notice a significant improvement in their hyperhidrosis. Iontophoresis utilizes a water bath which submerges the hands and/or feet while the low-amplitude current is applied to the skin within. The specifics of the current and voltage are as follows: 8-12mA and 16V (alternating current and direct current).

Effectiveness of Iontophoresis

Several studies have shed light on the promising potential for Iontophoresis to effectively treat hyperhidrosis. In 2017, a randomized controlled trial was conducted on 29 patients with hyperhidrosis. 93% of participants in the group which received iontophoretic treatment showed a clinical improvement as opposed to just 38% of participants in the placebo group (sham treatment). Moreover, the degree of clinical improvement was impressive – the sweat secretion rate in the iontophoretic group was reduced by a whopping 92%. There remains some contention regarding the lasting effects of iontophoresis amongst the scientific community – in the above study, 71% of patients maintained their improvement in symptoms for up to 4 weeks after their last treatment. However, a comprehensive review of all other studies conducted on Iontophoresis and hyperhidrosis since 1990, revealed that the treatment effect ranges anywhere from 2 to 14 weeks after the last iontophoretic session. In view of this, iontophoretic practitioners typically recommend ‘maintenance therapy’ every 1 to 4 weeks.

Safety & Limitations of Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis is not without its side effects. These include dryness and reddening of the skin, as well as the occasional skin rash. However, these adverse effects are not serious nor life-threatening and typically resolve by themselves after some time. Patients are strongly advised to remove all metallic objects prior to iontophoretic treatment, and can expect to feel some mild tingling on their skin which is regarded as harmless.

Patients who have broken skin from wounds of other chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or occupational allergic dermatitis, should either avoid iontophoresis until their skin has healed, or they could consider applying petrolatum jelly (i.e. Vaseline) over the exposed skin prior to iontophoretic treatment. As there is limited data on the safety of Iontophoresis in pregnant women, they are advised to abstain from iontophoresis until such time that safety and performance data is publicly available.

 

Buying an Iontophoresis Machine

With the purchase of an iontophoresis machine you can start to get rid of that uncomfortable feeling you get from sweating in public. Using small amounts of electricity, an iontophoresis machine treats the sweat glands in the areas affected. Typical treatment with an iontophoresis machine starts out at 3 treatments per week. This continues on until you have the desired dryness in the treatment area. Then treatments drop down to one per week for most people.

We have done some research and found some of the best iontophoresis machines on the buying an iontophoretic machinemarket. Each one of these machines was picked because they have a 4.5 star rating or above. They are also picked because they have been found to be among the most effective on the market. One of the machines even holds the record for most effective in clinical studies across the world.

Keep reading to find your next iontophoresis machine and to change your life forever…

 

 

Top Iontophoresis Machines

ImageIontophoresis MachineCurrent TypeCoupon CodePrice
Electro Antiperspirant ElitePulsed Current

5% discount
Use this Code:
.100%DRY

Check Price
top iontophoresis machineHidrex PSP-1000Pulsed Current

No

Check Price
cheap device with coupon codeIontocure iD-100Direct Current

10% discount
Use this Code:
.FORIONTO

Check Price
Idromed 5 PSPulsed Current

No

Check Price
R.A Fisher unitR.A Fischer MD-1aDirect Current

No

Check Price

 

Electro Antiperspirant Elite

electro antiperspirant iontophoresis machine

From Electro Antiperspirant comes the Electro Antiperspirant Elite, a very well rated device. With the addition of extra applicators, you can treat many of the regions of the body that suffer from hyperhidrosis. This iontophoresis machine is both battery powered and AC wall powered and as such can be used for both home and away usage.

In clinical trials this device provided 100% effectiveness. This is the only device in the world to do so. It is also the only device on our list which allows for treating both the hands and the feet at the same time.

With a high level of control options, it is acceptable for both home and clinic usage. It comes with an EU certificate but this machine is yet to be approved by the FDA for the US market. Despite the high cost, you will be getting a very effective iontophoresis machine. For those on a budget, you can get a lower version from their website.

read more about Electro Antiperspirant Elite

Use the Coupon code 100%DRY to save 5% on all their products.

Check price here

 

 

Iontocure iD-100

iontophoresis machine's iontocure

The Iontocure iD-100 iontophoresis machine is yet another highly rated device. In fact, it is rated the best machine for those who are seeking affordability and quality in the same device.

It also comes with a lot of positive reviews. Everything you need to treat both the hands and the feet is included with this device.

You will notice that the Iontocure iD-100 machine is missing FDA approval. One will also find that this iontophoresis machine is only capable of treating the feet and hands.

read more about Iontocure iD-100

Use the Coupon code FORIONTO to save 10% on the id-100 machine.

Use the Coupon code FORIONTO200 to save 5% on the id-200 machine.

Check price here

 

 

Hidrex PSP-1000 Iontophoresis Device

hidrex machine review

With the power of a Hidrex, this unit has sold over 20,000 devices. With a modern look, it isn’t all about appearances with this machine. It is flexible and capable of delivery both direct and variable pulse. The success rate is very high with this iontophoresis machine and it is FDA approved.

As far as iontophoresis machines go, this unit is relatively expensive but it is also one of the most effective on the market. In fact, it is among the most expensive public use devices. There is also a lower model of this unit available for around $695.00.

read more about Hidrex PSP-1000

 

 

R.A. Fischer Iontophoresis Unit MD-1a

You might look at the R.A. Fischer Unit MD-1a iontophoresis machine and think that it looks pretty bland and we wouldn’t argue that with you. With the appearance of professional medical equipment, this unit is powerful. It is also FDA approved meaning insurance might be able to cover part or all of the cost of the device.

For those that want to be able to treat the underarm area, you can order sponge pads for the device.

In order to purchase the R.A. Fischer Unit MD-1a  you will need to get a prescription. Without the assistance of insurance, the device is also pretty expensive. For more information call R.A. Fisher (Phone: 800-525-3467 )

 

 

Idromed 5 PS

idromed machine's reviews

The look of this little device is quite unique but the display screen helps to make it a very extensive machine. You can monitor just about everything the unit is doing.

A variety of body part pads and treatment equipment can be purchased in order to increase the areas treatable by the Idromed 5 PS. With a two year warranty and 8 week money back guarantee this is a pretty safe buy.

The major con of this machine is that it is relatively expensive, running around $710 or 675 euros. It is another one of the most expensive units you will find on our website. The screen on this device contributes towards the overall cost.

read more about Idromed 5 PS

 

 

Advantages of Iontophoresis Machines

Iontophoresis machines are one of the safest medical devices out there and that alone is a very big pro. That fact also means that there will be a lot of other benefits out there.

[wprs-pros]

 

Disadvantages of Iontophoresis Machines

Nothing is perfect and these machines are not about to break that rule. They do come pretty close however.

[wprs-cons]

In the modern medical world you are used to seeing a long list of side effects and potential disadvantages of treatments. With this treatment that is different. The process is extremely safe and even painless if you use a iontophoresis machines with pulsed current. Some people may notice the following side effects:

  • A tingling feeling
  • Dryness of the skin after using the iontophoresis machine
  • Blistering, peeling, and/or irritation of the treatment area

Most side effects from iontophoresis will go away with time and can be treated with moisturizer or over the counter hydrocortisone.

 

Iontophoresis FAQ

Who invented Iontophoresis?

The primary purpose of creating this technique is to find a way of injecting medication into the body without using a needle. Specialists started experimenting with the idea in the 18th century, and further progress was made in the 19th century. It is a result of an effort by several researchers, over several centuries and the ‘invention’ does not belong to any one person. Due to certain limitations, it never went mainstream as a way of delivering medication. However, researchers found that it is beneficial in treating hyperhidrosis.

How does the Iontophoresis machine work?

Modern science does not fully understand how it works, but it is thought that ions prevent perspiration of sweat glands in some way, and with prolonged therapy, permanent changes occur in the sweat glands, leading to sweating less.

Does Iontophoresis work in all the cases?

It has been known to work in 95% of cases, but regretfully, a small number of people are refractory to the treatment. In most cases, one will be able to see the difference within 2 to 4 weeks of regular use. Most users will require continued, intermittent treatment in order to maintain the effect

What is an Iontophoresis patch?

As mentioned previously, one of the original purposes of this technology was to make drug delivery simpler and painless. The patches contain photovoltaic cells attached to the fabric. When the patch comes in contact with the skin, it provides low-grade electric current and thus promotes the entry of medications into the body. Iontophoresis patches are available for the treatment of some medical conditions; it is currently and most notably used to deliver anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs, such as: cortisone, or diclofenac.

Can iontophoresis machines be used by everyone affected by hyperhidrosis?

Iontophoresis machines can be used by almost everyone, except those with cardiac pacemakers or pregnant women; there are very few other contradictions, if any. However, it is something that helps gradually and requires lots of dedication and a commitment of time and effort. Not everyone is ready to spend 20 to 30 minutes a day. Eventually, you will not need to use the machine on a daily basis, as after initial response, one can slowly reduce the frequency of procedures.

Can iontophoresis machines be used for any body part?

Many different parts of the body can be treated with an iontophoresis machine. Here are just some:

  • Armpits
  • Feet (very effective)
  • Hands (very effective)
  • Facial, forehead, and Scalp
  • Armpit/Underarm
  • Legs

How quickly can I expect to see results?

It may depend on the severity of the condition, but it is recommended that any conclusion regarding results should only be made after 12 treatments, that have been performed regularly.

Can this device be dangerous, after all, Iontophoresis works by electric current?

No, it is not dangerous at all. The machine provides only a small, low-level current using batteries in most cases. Generally, the device is not plugged into a wall socket to avoid any malfunction. However, those on pacemakers and pregnant women should not use it. Those with metallic implants should take precautions.

Does Iontophoresis cause pain or hurt?

Surely not, though some people may feel some discomfort, but not all the people. Important is to avoid using the procedure if you have the preexisting skin condition or use on or near any wound.

What are the contradictions for Iontophoresis?

The two most significant contraindications are pacemakers (as it works by providing an electric current), and pregnancy (as it has not been tested on pregnant women). Those with metallic implants should also avoid using it.

What are the side effects of Iontophoresis?

Any therapy that works may also have some unwanted effects. Some individuals using it may feel discomfort, though in most cases it will be short-lived, and most people will get used to it. Some people may complain about dry skin after the procedure. In rare cases, it may cause skin irritation or redness. As most side effects are mild, they can be managed with good moisturizing cream.

Can Iontophoresis cause an electric shock?

Most of these devices work on batteries and are not plugged into the main line so as to avoid the risk of more charge than is needed or required; also, to avoid injury or malfunction. It provides a low-level current that may result in a tingling sensation, but this current cannot be high enough to cause any severe damage to the body cells. When carrying out the procedure, it is better to remove metallic jewelry from the body.

Can Iontophoresis provide a permanent cure for excessive sweating?

No, it can only provide temporary relief. However, after initial treatment over a couple of months, typically 12+ treatments, one can see a marked reduction in sweating, and there is no need for carrying out the procedure daily. Usually, maintenance therapy of once a week is enough.

Who performs Iontophoresis treatment?

Although some specialized clinics may provide treatment, it can also be done at home. The procedure must be done regularly, so getting such therapy in a clinic may not be practical. Treatment is simple enough and does not require any prolonged or ongoing training.

Will insurance companies pay for Iontophoresis?

In most cases, no. Most insurance packages cover neither the iontophoresis nor conditions such as hyperhidrosis. Another reason; most insurance companies regard iontophoresis as “alternative” therapy. This means that they will pay for medication(s) prescribed by a doctor to treat hyperhidrosis, but they may not pay for iontophoresis therapy or the purchase of your own machine.

How much does the Iontophoresis treatment cost?

In most of the cases, it will cost $150-$200 for each session done in a doctor’s office. But costs may vary quite a bit. Usually, after initial therapy in a doctor’s office, one may continue the treatment at home by purchasing the equipment, as in the long run that would be much cheaper.

How much would an Iontophoresis machine cost?

Although some cheap variants cost as low as $250, a machine with some basic features would cost about $500-$700 and can be bought online.

What features should I look for in Iontophoresis machine?

One of the things to consider when making a decision is the cost of the machine; its compact size version is most convenient and can be taken along while traveling. Pay attention to the safety features, as there should not be a risk of electrical shock. Most good machines should have a timer. The power source is another thing to look at; battery operated may be safer but have higher operating costs, while those plugged into mainline should have valid approvals for use in humans. Finally, pay attention to the warranty, as it should be at least 12 months.

Does it take a lot to succeed with Iontophoresis therapy?

Not really. For most people it is not difficult, all one needs is persistence and patience.

 

Conclusion

Buying an iontophoresis machine is a big step in your life. We don’t just mean that cost wise either. Without excessive sweating in your life you will find that you are able to wear the clothes you want and feel more confident in yourself. At an average of only one treatment required per week, you will find that it is also easy to accommodate.

Take the time to read through each of the devices listed here and visit the seller’s website. This will give you all of the information that you need to make the right decision on the device to treat your hyperhidrosis.

 

References

Batheja, P., Thakur, R. and Michniak, B. (2006) ‘Transdermal iontophoresis’, Expert Opin Drug Deliv, 3(1), pp. 127-38.

Kim, D. H., Kim, T. H., Lee, S. H. and Lee, A. Y. (2017) ‘Treatment of Palmar Hyperhidrosis with Tap Water Iontophoresis: A Randomized, Sham-Controlled, Single-Blind, and Parallel-Designed Clinical Trial’, Annals of dermatology, 29(6), pp. 728-734.

Kreyden, O. P. (2004) ‘Iontophoresis for palmoplantar hyperhidrosis’, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 3(4), pp. 211-214.

Nagar, R. and Sengar, S. S. (2016) ‘A Simple User-made Iontophoresis Device for Palmoplantar Hyperhidrosis’, Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(1), pp. 32-33.

Rawat, S., Vengurlekar, S., Rakesh, B., Jain, S. and Srikarti, G. (2008) ‘Transdermal delivery by iontophoresis’, Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences, 70(1), pp. 5-10.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iontophoresis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25152342

https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/baylor-dermatology/procedures/iontophoresis

 

 

Dr. Gary C. Anderson M.D is a Surgeon who specializes in the treatment of hyperhidrosis. During the past 20 years, he has performed over 2000 sympathectomy procedures on patients with sweating of the underarms, hands, face, scalp or blushing.