Iontophoresis is one of the promising treatment options for excessive sweat, especially for the palms, and feet. New options/addons are now also being offered for underarm as well as facial areas. And the treatment is also gaining approval from the insurance companies and from the FDA. So the treatment seems to be gaining traction and going mainstream after all those years!
A lot of people who try iontophoresis are very enthused at first, but become quickly disappointed for one reason or other soon. However, I believe that Iontophoresis should work for most people suffering with Hyperhidrosis, and this post is my attempt to provide some specific tips on how to go about doing this.
Tip #1: Have a plan
Yes, that sounds obvious! But in my experience of hearing from multitudes of patients trying iontophoresis for their hyperhidrosis, this is the number one thing that goes wrong. Some start with a very aggressive plan, don't see results and get discouraged quickly. Some others go at it in a too casual a way and of-course it doesn't yield any results.
The current settings, the current type, the session lengths, and the frequency – everything matters and the better you plan and followup on the plan, the more likely it is that iontophoresis will yield the results for you. Get that plan on your Outlook/Google/Mobile calendars to ensure that you don't forget.
I will post a comprehensive plan to go about taking iontophoresis treatments soon. But in the meanwhile, have a plan for yourself which will give you a by-day guideline, and make the plan at-least for 3 months so that you keep going at it even if the results are not there to see. That brings me to the next tip.
Tip #2: Be persistent
Iontophoresis is a bit funny – for some it works after the first setting and for others it takes a lot longer. Why? Nobody knows for sure (because nobody knows for sure why Iontophoresis works for hyperhidrosis in the first place). However, that is often a key factor in people not getting the results out of iontophoresis.
As a quick guide – Iontophoresis usually yields some results within 2 weeks of starting the treatment. However, depending on specific cases, it may take anywhere up to 3 – 4 months before you should discount it as a treatment option for your excessive sweat condition. So my advice – keep going at it even if it doesn't seem to be giving you the results you have heard others get. Its most likely only a matter of time and dry hands/feet are beautiful things – beautiful enough to be persistent for a bit longer! 🙂
Tip #3: Experiment
Iontophoresis treatment has several variables – the current, the session length, the type (direct/pulse), the water etc. Usually, the standard settings work for most people. However, if the initial settings do not work for you – don't give up. You can try the following to see if things change:
- Current – try more stronger current. a higher voltage may be a bit more irritating, but in some cases that may work if the lower standard settings did not work for you.
- Session length: Normally, 10 -12 minutes sessions are good enough. But you can try to extend the session lengths to upto 20 minutes.
- Type: Usually, it is said that pulse current works better because it is more comfortable. However, if your iontophoresis machine has an option of direct current, try that – some studies suggest that direct current is more effective.
- Water: The tap water usually is fine for most cases. However, depending on your water source, it may be worth trying some additives if the iontophoresis treatment is not showing any results. For example – some people have reported better results by adding salt as that apparently increases the conductivity.
- Anode/Cathode settings: Some studies suggest that Anode tray may be better as compared to the Cathode tray. Not entirely sure why – but you can attempt switching your hands/feet between those two trays to see if that works better for you.
Tip #4: Monitor
The trick about iontophoresis is that the changes can be incremental, and unless you have a robust monitoring system in place, you will not notice what is working for you and what is not. Have a daily log of your excessive sweat from the day you start your treatments. Its motivating to notice when you start seeing those small improvements and its also instrumental in knowing if its not really working and when you need to experiment.
Think of it as dieting!
Tip #5: Make yourself accountable
Iontophoresis requires persistence and discipline. And unless you are tremendously self motivated (which you should be – dry hands and feet are something we all dream of – right?), it is easy to let the treatment fell wayside to make time for other priorities in life.
So, do yourself a favor – have an incentive plan (e.g. an ice-cream, candy, a dessert, whatever motivates you) on a weekly basis if you stick to your plan for that week. Sounds silly, but effective.
Another strategy – tell someone who you know if will be supporting (e..g spouse, parents, siblings) to keep you honest about your treatments. Its similar to the marathon training strategy many people follow – tell the world about the fact that you are training for marathon and they will ensure that you don't feel too lazy to get out of that couch to dip your hands in current carrying water!
Thats it! Let me know if you have any other tips in mind and will be happy to include.