Iontophoresis is a medical treatment that delivers a small electrical current through the skin soaked in tap water, or a solution containing an anticholinergic medication to transport ions, or charged molecules, to cross the normal skin barrier.

Iontophoresis is a medical treatment that delivers a small electrical current through the skin soaked in tap water, or a solution containing an anticholinergic medication (e.g. glycopyrrolate) to transport ions, or charged molecules, to cross the normal skin barrier.  It is used as a non-invasive treatment of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).  It is safe, highly effective and well tolerated.  Its main use is in the treatment of focal areas of hyperhidrosis, particularly palms and soles but is also useful in the treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis.

Does it work?

After one cycle of treatment, up to 85% of people with symptoms in the hands and feet will find relief. It is slightly less successful in the treatment of underarm sweating but there is up to 70% success rate. As success is related to the direct effect of the electrical current on the skin, iontophoresis works best when higher currents are used, or the treatment is carried out for longer.

Iontophoresis is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated, and it has few side effects when used as directed. However, it is important to follow the instructions provided by a healthcare professional to ensure safe and effective use.

How many sessions are needed?

For hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), the treatment involves daily or weekly sessions over several weeks, followed by a maintenance schedule of less frequent sessions to keep the symptoms under control.

The duration of each session will vary depending on the individual case, but typically ranges from 20 to 40 minutes.

It is important to follow the recommended treatment plan and attend all scheduled sessions to achieve the best possible outcomes.

The duration and frequency of iontophoresis treatment will be determined by a healthcare professional based on the individual's specific needs and response to the treatment.

Why come to Derma for your treatment?

Receiving iontophoresis treatment under the guidance of trained nurses can offer several potential benefits:

  • Experienced nurses can ensure the treatment is delivered safely and effectively, using appropriate settings and dosages based on the individual's needs and medical history.
  • Allows for more precise and consistent delivery of the therapy, as the equipment and techniques used in the clinic are more advanced than those available for home use.
  • More robust monitoring of progress and adjust treatment as needed throughout the course which leads to better outcomes.

However, iontophoresis can be done at home as well, with the use of equipment prescribed by a dermatologist. The decision to receive treatment in a clinic or at home should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional, based on individual needs and circumstances. Often it is recommended that the initial treatment schedule is carried out in a clinic then maintenance doses can be carried out at home using a cheaper, commercially available machine.


What are the benefits of Iontophoresis?

Iontophoresis has several potential benefits, including:

Localized treatment: Since iontophoresis delivers the medication or therapeutic agent directly to the target area, it can provide a more targeted and localized treatment than other delivery methods.

Reduced systemic side effects: By delivering drugs directly to the affected area, iontophoresis can potentially reduce the risk of systemic side effects that can occur when drugs are taken orally or injected.

Safe and well-tolerated: Iontophoresis is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, with few reported side effects when used as directed.

However, it is important to note that not all conditions can be treated with iontophoresis, and the effectiveness of the treatment may vary depending on the individual case. It is always important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.

Are there any contraindications to the treatment?


  1. Pregnancy, although the risks are unknown. However, it is safe if you are breastfeeding
  2. Epilepsy
  3. Patients with a metal implant that may be affected by the flow of the current such as joint replacements
  4. Patients with electrical implants such as a pacemaker

If iontophoresis is administered in clinic by experienced healthcare professionals then the side effects above are unlikely, as treatment will be adjusted according to the patient’s tolerance.

What is the process of Iontophoresis at Derma?

It is carried out by experienced nurses following a consultation by a dermatologist.

The course is lasts over a month. The treatment will always start on a Tuesday:

  • First week on days 1,2 and 4
  • Second week on days 7 and 10
  • Third week on day 15
  • Fourth week on day2 2.

Depending on the site of treatment, you may need to remove your top to expose the armpits otherwise you can roll up your sleeves or remove your socks and shoes.

Metal piercings will need to be removed during the treatment

The treatment involves placing the affected sites (hand and/or feet) in a water bath just covering approximately halfway up the affected areas, a low dosage electrical current will then be passed through. You will need to remain in position for 20-40 minutes.

Hands and feet can be treated at the same time, but the axilla will need a separate treatment. Each treatment will take 20-40 minutes, so if the axilla and hands are being treated it will take over an hour.

Most patients feel a tingling sensation which lasts for a while after the session, but it is expected that you will be able to go home and carry on with normal household tasks following treatment.

What are the side effects of Iontophoresis?

Iontophoresis is generally considered to be a safe and well-tolerated treatment, with few reported side effects. However, some individuals may experience mild discomfort or skin irritation during or after the treatment. Other potential side effects may include:

  1. Skin irritation: Iontophoresis may cause skin irritation or redness at the site of treatment, particularly if the treatment is administered at high intensity or for an extended period of time.
  2. Skin dryness or mild dermatitis which can be treated with emollients.
  3. Tingling or itching: Some individuals may experience a mild tingling or itching sensation during the treatment, which settles on cessation of treatment.
  4. Burns or skin damage: If the treatment is administered at too high an intensity or for too long, it may cause burns or other damage to the skin.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting iontophoresis treatment to discuss any potential risks or side effects. If any side effects or adverse reactions are experienced during treatment, it is important to stop the treatment and seek medical attention.

What about aftercare?

There is no specific aftercare needed following iontophoresis and you can carry on as normal.  No special dressings are needed.

Related Specialists at Derma

The following dermatologists specialise in Iontophoresis

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