Tap water iontophoresis - Dr. Zatrok’s blog

Tap water iontophoresis

Currently there is no cure that would permanently eliminate the hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating phenomenon, but there are a number of treatments available to relieve the symptoms. These include antiperspirant cosmetics and prescription oral and topical medications, as well as tap water iontophoresis.

Tap water iontophoresis

Tap water iontophoresis for the treatment of palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis can be traced back to the 1940s. Since the introduction of the method, the technology has been constantly evolving, resulting in a significant improvement in its efficiency. Therefore, today, tap water iontophoresis is one of the safest, easiest, and most effective ways to treat hyperhidrosis. With the devices available today, treating excessive sweating is easy, fast and risk-free even at home.

The International Hyperhidrosis Society, that is, the professional organization of physicians treating pathological sweating has long recommended this treatment as first choice treatment option. It is effective even if all other usual treatment attempts (cosmetics, medications, Botox, acupuncture, etc.) have failed.

The treatment is safe, needle-free and drug-free. A mild, pulsating electric current is passed through the skin of the problem area. Treatment with a current of appropriate frequency and intensity “separates” the connection between the sweat glands, and the vegetative nerves that provide them with incorrect instructions. This eliminates sweating generated by malfunctioning neural activity. A two-week cure eliminates sweating for weeks, or at least significantly reduces it. What is important: it is almost always successful!

sweat glands before and after treatment

What is tap water iontophoresis and how does it work?

To better understand iontophoresis, let’s interpret the word itself.

  • Ion = electrically charged molecule
  • Phoresis = a process in which charged particles migrate in electrolyte fluids acting as conductors, under the influence of an electric direct current.
    Positive ions (cations) migrate toward the negatively charged cathode, while negative ions (anions) migrate toward the positive side, i.e., the anode.
  • Iontophoresis = movement of ionized (electrically charged) particles by means of electrical current

Iontophoresis is a form of electrotherapy during which a mild electrical current is passed through the affected area (hands, feet or armpits). The current “carries away” the electrically charged particles in water and delivers them to the body.

According to the most accepted theory, this inhibits the sympathetic neural signal transmission, and this quasi “turns off” the sweat glands. It neutralizes the signal between the nerve and glands, thereby reducing or completely inhibiting the formation of sweat in the treated area. Other theories suggest that the iontophoresis causes blockage of the sweat gland – during treatment, the deposition of ions creates a temporary “plug” in the sweat glands.

After all, it doesn’t matter which way, but with treatment you can achieve excellent results.

Important information before treatment of sweating

  • Apply iontophoresis treatment only if there are no contraindications to it. These are the same reasons to be considered for other electrotherapy treatments, too. Follow the device manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.
  • It is important to know that in the course of the iontophoresis, you may feel a mild tingling sensation.
  • You should also know that the electric current used during iontophoresis is not strong enough to cause any damage.
  • Do not use iontophoresis during pregnancy, if you have a pacemaker, heart disease or epilepsy. If you are unsure, ask your doctor’s opinion.
  • Remove jewellery, rings, and bracelets before iontophoresis treatment.
  • If there is a wound or scratch on your skin, apply Vaseline to the affected skin area before treatment, this will protect the wound from getting soggy from soaking in water. Vaseline inhibits the iontophoresis process, so apply it only where and to the extent necessary.
  • Treatment may cause mild redness of the skin. It will disappear in a few minutes. If not, ask your doctor what to do.
  • If it dries your skin excessively, use a moisturizing body lotion after treatment.

What does effectiveness depend on?

Mainly on the current form used by the device. You can expect the best results from devices specially made for the treatment of abnormal sweating.

The most effective treatment is provided by devices that use the so-called pulsed current (continuous alternation of current / pause).

Home electrotherapy devices are available that provide “conventional” constant current iontophoresis in addition to analgesic TENS (nerve stimulation) and muscle stimulation (EMS) programmes. Such devices are mainly intended for the treatment of joint complaints. They are 30-40% less efficient in the treatment of sweating than devices that provide a pulsed current.

Dermadry’s tap water iontophoresis deviceDermadry tapwater iontophoresis unit for treatment of excessive sweating

  • this device was developed as an effective way to treat abnormal sweating
  • separate programmes are available to treat sweating in the palms, soles (hands and feet sweating, i.e., palmoplantar hyperhidrosis) and armpits/underarms (underarm sweating, that is, axillary hyperhidrosis).
  • simple operation, 15-30 minutes treatment time per day
  • after 2 weeks of treatment, 93% success rate, sweating normalizes or disappears completely
  • for home use, cosmetologists, or dermatology clinics
  • its price is around €400
  • Click here or on the image to buy it

What kind of water should you use?

Normal tap water is required for the treatment!

Water quality may vary from one settlement to another. If the water is too soft, the iontophoresis may not have an optimal effect. Soft water does not contain enough minerals or electrolytes (tiny electrical particles). Use unsoftened water or add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water used.

According to some clinicians, salt water has a stronger therapeutic effect. If you are “not satisfied” with the normal tap water available at your place, add a quarter teaspoon of table salt to the water and carry out the treatment.

Although purchasing a device specifically designed to treat excessive sweating may seem expensive, but you can quickly see through that because the device “lasts” for many years, (even decades), you can treat sweating without additional costs. Excessive sweating often “runs through” the entire family, meaning almost every family member is affected. The iontophoresis device can be used by all members of the family.

Treatment of hands and feet sweating by iontophoresis

The treatment itself is carried out in the same way with both the pulsed current and the conventional tap water iontophoresis devices. Let’s take a look at the steps.

tap water iontophoresis Treatment of excessive sweating of palms and soles

  • Take out the device, the iontophoresis kit, two plastic trays (the size that your hands or feet fit right in).
  • Fill the containers with half a centimetre of water. Just touch the water with your hands or feet (do not immerse)!
  • Connect the electrodes to the cables, and plug the latter to the device.
  • Place one electrode and a towel in one tray and the others in the other one.
  • Stand on it with both feet, or place both of your hands on the towels.
  • Activate device (start the “hands” or “feet” programme/profile). Run the iontophoresis programme with a current that you can tolerate but does not cause you pain.

Treatment of underarm sweating by iontophoresis

tap water iontophoresis Treatment of excessive sweating of armpits

  • Connect the electrodes to the cables, and plug the latter to the device.
  • Soak the sponge cases (underarm pockets) in water, insert electrodes, insert cables, plug the cables into the device, plug AC adapter, select the “underarm” programme and place one (electrode containing pocket) in your right armpit and the other in your left armpit.
    Press your arms against your armpits/trunk until the end of the treatment.
  • Activate device (start the “underarm” programme). Run the iontophoresis programme with a current that you can tolerate but does not cause you pain.

How often should tap water iontophoresis treatment be performed?

There are two phases of treatment: the symptomatic phase and the maintenance phase.

In the symptomatic phase, you reduce the symptoms with intensive (daily) treatments, and then, after they have disappeared, you maintain the achieved condition with less frequent, but regular treatments. Over time, sweating may return, at which point you may switch to more intensive treatment again.

The required frequency of treatments at the symptomatic phase depends on the extent of hyperhidrosis.

  • Mild: 3-5 times a week for 1-2 weeks.
  • Moderate: 3-5 times a week for 2-3 weeks.
  • Severe: 3-5 times a week for 4-6 weeks.

With the Dermadry device, the treatment takes only 15 minutes (armpits) or 20 minutes (hands and feet).

Once the desired level of dryness has been achieved, the frequency of treatments can be reduced, but you still need to treat in order to maintain the results.

  • Mild: once a week for an additional 2-3 weeks
  • Moderate: once a week continuously
  • Severe: 1-3 times a week continuously

Is tap water iontophoresis effective?

More and more clinical trials prove the efficacy and safety of tap water iontophoresis in the treatment of hyperhidrosis. In the majority of studies, the success rate for a two-week use is around 90%, meaning that almost all patients receiving treatment report a beneficial effect.

Studies have consistently demonstrated that tap water iontophoresis is a simple, safe, economical, and effective treatment form for hyperhidrosis. It is worth applying it if the simpler and cheaper antiperspirants and cosmetics do not lead to adequate results.

Tap water iontophoresis should definitely be used before deciding on, or instead of Botox injections, surgical interventions, and prescription, long-term medication.

It is a natural, drug-free, needle-free and non-invasive treatment option that provides long-term results. It can effectively treat different degrees of hyperhidrosis, from mild to severe cases.

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