What is Iontophoresis?

What is Iontophoresis?

Jan 15, 2018

In cases where antiperspirants are not effective, a physician may recommend “Tap Water Iontophoresis” for treatment of palmar or plantar hyperhidrosis. In medical terms, iontophoresis is defined as the topical introduction of ionized drugs into the skin using direct current (DC). However, use of iontophoresis with simple tap water has been documented as early as 1952, and later studies by Dr. Fred Levit and Dr. Lewis P. Stolman demonstrated its efficacy in the treatment of palmar hyperhidrosis.

Typical treatments consist of placing the hands (and/or feet) into two water baths, each with a connection to the Galvanic Unit. Current is applied typically for 20 minutes per session, initially with 3-4 sessions per week followed by a maintenance program of treatments dependent upon the patient’s response.

While the exact mechanism for the effects of tap water iontophoresis on hyperhidrosis remains uncertain, recent research suggests that a parakeratotic plug is formed, blocking the duct without damaging the sweat gland. Dr. Stolman found iontophoresis to be effective in about 83% of the subjects treated in his study.