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Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis involves passing a weak electrical current through the skin. Iontophoresis has a variety of uses in medicine. This article discusses the use of iontophoresis to decrease sweating by blocking sweat glands.

Description

The area to be treated is placed into water. A gentle current of electricity passes through the water. A technician carefully and gradually increases the electrical current until you feel a light tingling sensation.

The therapy lasts about 30 minutes and requires several sessions each week.

How iontophoresis works is not exactly known. It is thought that the process somehow plugs the sweat glands and temporarily prevents you from sweating.

Iontophoresis units are also available for home use. If you use a unit at home, be sure to follow the instructions that come with the machine.

Why the Procedure is Performed

Iontophoresis may be used to treat excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) of the hands, underarms, and feet.

Risks

Side effects are rare, but may include skin irritation, dryness, and blistering. Tingling may continue even after the treatment has ended.

Alternative Names

Hyperhidrosis - iontophoresis; Excessive sweating - iontophoresis

References

Langtry JAA. Hyperhidrosis. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 105.

Pariser DM, Ballard A. Iontophoresis for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. Dermatol Clin. 2014;32(4):491-494. PMID: 25152342 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25152342.

Review Date 4/14/2017

Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.