Treatments for hyperhidrosis

Iontophoresis For Stopping Hand And Feet Sweating

Iontophoresis uses a device which is not very complicated and it is used to treat excessive sweating of the feet (plantar hyperhidrosis) and hands (palmar hyperhidrosis). Consult your doctor before embarking upon this treatment as it is not for everyone. It is usual to try antiperspirants then prescription antiperspirants first, and if that does not help then Iontophoresis could be considered. It is not applicable to other body parts as what is required is that the affected area is bathed in a liquid. Iontophoresis requires careful adjusting which is specific to the user and once done it have a significant success rate in helping with excessive sweating in the hands and feet

Iontophoresis works using a low electrical current which is conducted through water and on to the surface of the skin. The mechanism by which the hyperhidrosis treatment of Iontophoresis works is not entirely known. It is postulated that the electric current combined with mineral particles from the water synergise to thicken the skin and block the sweat glands, that way no sweat can come out of the skin and it is reabsorbed back into the body. This blockage is recognised in the body and so sweat production is halted.

What the Iontophoresis Treatment involves

All jewellery should be removed before starting treatment. If there are any cuts or scratches to the skin these should be covered with Vaseline before starting. The Iontophoresis equipment comes with shallow trays which should be filled with water. The user then either puts their hands or their feet or both in the water for a certain period of time (generally twenty to forty minutes). During this time the machine continuously sends a small electric current through the water. This processes is generally repeated on every off day for the next week or until a good level of dryness has been achieved. Then the schedule can be reduced, from once a week to potentially even four times a week. This varies from individual to individual and it may be that some people have to do this every day to have it be effective. If the treatment is stopped then the sweating tends to return. If after the procedure there is still some irritation to the skin then a 1% hydrocortisone may be applied.

It is important to get the right sort of tap water, as what is required is hard water which has a relatively high mineral content. Generally if this is the case then a teaspoon of baking soda may be added to help with this. It is also possible to add a prescription medicine called anticholinergic if the desired effect is not occurring. An anticholinergic block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, in the nervous system.

Who should not use this technique

  • Women who are pregnant
  • People with pacemakers
  • People with joint replacements which are metal or any other significant metal replacement parts
  • Anyone with a cardiac conditions
  • Anyone with epilepsy

Side effects and drawbacks of Iontophoresis

  • Excessive dryness of the skin may occur, in this case it is recommended to use a moisturizer and potentially to take a treatment less frequently, and see if the dryness improves.
  • If there is abrasion to the skin then this may become irritated when the electric current is applied, this can be minimized by covering the skin with an oily barrier such Vaseline.
  • The skin along the water line may become irritated, if this is the case then Vaseline should again be applied.
  • It can be a time consuming process
  • It can be an uncomfortable sensation to run the electrical current even though it is minor

Summary

Iontophoresis can be a viable option to stop excessive sweating of the hands and feet, however it does require a certain amount of work to get the technique correct and to adjust it to the particular patient, so it helps to have someone familiar in the technique to coach, as it requires persistence, as well as being quite time consuming.