Iontophoresis machines have been used to treat hyperhidrosis since the 1940s. This electronic treatment is often used for excessive sweating of the hands and feet, but it can also be used for other problem areas as well. This is the next logical step for hyperhidrosis sufferers who have already tried topical solutions like antiperspirants with no success.
Also known as electromotive drug administration (EMDA), iontophoresis treatment works by sending a mild electric current and mineral particles inside the tap water through the affected areas.
The medical community is not exactly sure how this works, but many do speculate it has something to do with how the iontophoresis machine changes PH and ionic movements, which leads to your outer skin layer becoming thick and more likely to block the flow of sweat. It’s possible to buy in-home iontophoresis devices to utilize at their house at their own convenience, or you can utilize these machines at a doctor’s office.
Pretty much these machines come with plastic pads that are contained inside little containers filled up with tap water. The current will pass through the tap water while your hands or feet are situated in the containers. Since every hyperhidrosis sufferer is different it might take different levels of electricity to find what works for you.
The best advice is to start off with a really low current and then bump it up if you feel necessary. To help increase the success rate and conductivity of the water some people replace the tap water with anticholinergic solutions or salt.
Finding The Right Iontophoresis Machine
When it comes to iontophoresis machines there are a lot of manufacturers out there to choose from. We get a ton of emails from people all over asking our advice on what iontophoresis machine to purchase for themselves.
The truth is, it all comes down to certain factors such as how much money you have to spend, where you’re located, whether or not you’ll be covered by insurance, what kind of current provided, the power source used, and the cost of the machine.
If you’ve already been looking at different iontophoresis machines you probably have realized that these machines are generally not cheap. Some can cost up to $1,000 so it’s important to make up your mind from the start the total amount you’re willing to spend on one of these machines.
What we always tell our subscribers is that just because a machine has more features and a higher price doesn’t mean it’s going to perform well or better than others that don’t have as much features.
These machines will either be powered by AC or DC batteries. Those powered by DC batteries are usually more costly than those that work on AC current. A good iontophoresis machine without all the extra features would probably cost you anywhere between $500 to $700.
Periodic battery replacements is not necessary for iontophoresis machines that run on AC current. In addition, AC current machines tend to be more mild and comfortable compared to DC current machines.
With whatever iontophoresis machine you choose you have to make sure it has certain safety features so that you don’t get shocked (rarely happens). Sometimes the voltage transformer won’t work the way it’s designed to and if your machine doesn’t have the right safety features you’ll get shocked pretty good.
When choosing one of these machines you can either go with a rechargeable battery type or a disposable battery type. Choosing the battery type is important because this is where the source of the current is coming from.
If you go with a disposable battery type you will have to pay to replace the batteries to the machine, and the price of batteries can add up if you are using the proprietary batteries that the manufacturer provides. You could also use generic batteries instead but the effectiveness may not be as good.
Other features that some iontophoresis machines might come with include:
Timer – In order to alert you when the 15-20 minute session is over some of these devices come equipped with a timer. However, don’t make this a deal breaker when you’re shopping for intophoresis machines.
Indicators – LED lights come equipped on some of these machines, which will let you know when your feet or hands are conducing electricity.
Warranty – Make sure whatever machine you decide to go with comes with a warranty on it. This is vital so that if you feel the machine isn’t performing well for you it won’t be a problem to return it and get a refund.
Popular Iontophoresis Machines
RA Fischer – MD-1a
The name of the manufacturer of this iontophoresis machine is Fischer Galvanic and it runs on DC. These machines generally go for around $650 on the market, but you can also find some used ones on Ebay.
There are also some services out there that provide rentals for this device, which is around $50 per month. With this machine (unlike some of the others) you have to get a prescription in order to buy it.
Hidrex is another very popular iontophoresis machine used to treat hyperhidrosis successfully. This machine doesn’t use any batteries, as it’s main powered and a pulse current device.
It’s possible for the user to switch between direct and pulsed current. You can also adjust the current flow if you would like to. There are a couple versions of the Hidrex you can get for yourself.
One is called Hidrex PSP1000, which uses both AC and DC current, and the other is Hidrex GS400, which uses only DC current. The PSP1000 is the more expensive one costing around $1,000, and the GS400 is a bit cheaper priced at about $700.
Depending on which Idromed machine you get it will either be AC or DC, and the cost of these machines are normally in the 7 to 8 hundreds. The thing most people who this machine like about it is the fact that it’s portable.
Operating Instructions for Idromed Machine – http://beatpsoriasis.com/forms/idromedGS.pdf
The drionic machine is another popular choice when it comes to inotophoresis machines for treating hyperhidrosis. This machine is battery operated, AC current, and amdinisters as much as 9 V of voltage.
This machine is a lot less expensive than the other choices shown here. You can get Drionic machine for about $200 from Amazon or straight from the manufacturer.
Drionic instruction manual: www.flickr.com/photos/dryconfidence/6134275872/
Homemade Iontophoresis Machine
Most people that begin looking into iontophoresis machines find the price for them a little too much – some over $900. If your health insurance won’t cover it then that’s over $900 you will have to come out of pocket for. If you don’t have that type of money just lying around then it might be in your best interest to look into making your own iontophoresis machine.
The items you will need to complete this project include: 12 volt battery, lead with alligator clip, and stainless steel bowls or containers. The total cost to get all these materials together in order to build your machine will be around $40.
If you find that after using one 12 volt battery you don’t experience much results it’s a good idea to use an 18 volt or 24 volt battery set up. Make sure you use stainless steel bowls or containers to keep the water and place your hands and feet in. A 9 inch aluminum pie pan should work wonders for this.
Basically you want 3 batteries (1 12-volt, 2 6-volt), 2 cables/clips that you’ll use to attach the bowls to the batteries, and 2 cables to attach the 3 batteries together. Setting up your own iontophoresis machine is very simple once you know what you’re doing.
Check out the videos below, which are guaranteed to help you build very own homemade iontophoresis kit up and running.
How It Works
Most iontophoresis machines work in the same basic way:
- A battery or electric outlet is utilized to produce mild electrical currents
- This electrical current is sent through cables towards the treatment electrodes that are positioned inside trays filled up with tap water.
- The sufferer will then place their hands and feet inside the trays to finish the circuit and let flow towards the skin.
- For around ten to fifteen minutes the affected area is submerged under the tap water.
- Until the sweating gets under control the frequency of the treatment is more during the beginning. After the sweating has been reduced initially the frequency of the iontophoresis treatment may be reduced. (maybe once a week)
- You can use these machines to treat other areas besides the hands and the feet by soaking absorbent sponges in tap water and then placning them on the affected area.
Most people who use these machines don’t feel any side effects besides a little pain from the tingling caused by the machine as the electric current passes through. Other side effects you might experience includes a skin reddening, itching, small shocks, and a little stinging.
If it’s your first time using iontophoresis machines it might feel a little uncomfortable at first, and not very painful. At the end of the day it all depends on the machine you’re using and the kind of current (most people like the pulsed current because it causes less irritation compared to direct current) being used.
- You have to find the right amperage with any machine you decide to use. Not only that, but you need the right frequency for each problem area you are treating.
- Start out with 8mA to 10mA for your sweaty hands, and about 15mA to 18mA for your feet. With any machine you use make sure you find a current that causes a little tingling sensation. You have to increase the current until you really feel it.
- Each day for about 10 days straight treat your hands and feet for 10 to 15 minutes each. This initial treatment should help you sweat less significantly, and then you can reduce the frequency of the treatment to 1 to 3 times out the week.
- Tap water plays a huge role in the effectiveness of the treatment. Some people have experienced better results when they move to another city and begin using a different water content.
- If you can’t get a hold of a different source of tap water then maybe try adding some baking soda or salt in the water to help increase the effectiveness.