Sweating is a natural process for cooling the body. But if you sweat excessively or when you’re not even exerting yourself, it can become an embarrassment and a deterrent to a full and fulfilling life. If you’re looking to control excessive sweating, a medical condition officially known as hyperhidrosis, one of your options is using an iontophoresis machine. Never heard of iontophoresis? Don’t worry, many people haven’t. Here are answers to the questions you’re probably asking:
- What Is Iontophoresis?
Iontophoresis refers to conducting very mild electrical currents through a patient’s skin. This is accomplished by placing the area to be treated (such as the hands or feet) in water and gradually increasing an electrical current. The amount of electricity isn’t enough to produce a shock, only enough for the patient to feel a slight tingling sensation. Each session lasts for between 10 and 20 minutes, and most patients require several sessions. Iontophoresis is used in several different medical contexts, but in the case of excessive sweating, it’s thought to temporarily “turn off” the sweat glands in the treated area. Although it’s not completely clear why the process works, it’s fairly widely accepted that it does work; various studies have found it to be effective in treating excessive sweating in more than 80% of cases.
- How Do I Get Started?
The first thing you’ll want to do is get an accurate diagnosis from your doctor. While excessive sweating does occur on its own — in which case it’s called primary focal hyperhidrosis — it can also be a symptom of an underlying condition such as diabetes or a thyroid problem. In those situations, of course, your doctor might recommend a different treatment plan. But if your doctor agrees that iontophoresis is a good fit, he or she can give you a prescription to get an iontophoresis machine to use at home.
- Are There any Risks?
There are rarely any serious side effects associated with iontophoresis. Skin irritation or dryness may occasionally occur; if you have concerns, you should speak to your doctor. You should know that iontophoresis has been used to treat excessive sweating since the mid-20th century, so while iontophoresis machines themselves have gotten more high-tech, the basic concept has been safely used for a long time.
Have you looked for help with excessive sweating before? What have you tried so far? Join the discussion in the comments.