My experience with homemade iontophoresis machine

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At a basic level, an Iontophoresis device is essentially an appliance that sends a small current through the hyperhidrosis affected body part and for some reasons not yet understood, helps a large proportion of patients get relief from the condition. One can get the treatment sessions at a clinic, or more conveniently  at home using any of the commercially available iontophoresis machines. I this article, I would like to share with you my experience with homemade iontophoresis machine.

Homemade iontophoresis machine Yes, it is possible to make an iontophoresis machine at home (see how in this post). The advantage is of-course that its way cheaper to make one at home than to buy one (its to the order of $40 vs. $400.. so definitely worth a look). However, there are varying opinions on whether a homemade iontophoresis machine really works. The iontophoresis machine manufacturers (ofcourse) would want you to believe that they don't, while a plethora of internet blogs maintain that homemade iontophoresis machines are as good as (if not better) than the ready-made ones. Here is what i found out. I have tried to be absolutely objective here… your experience may vary, but here's my story:

  1. I made an iontophoresis machine at home a few months back. I have posted instructions in this this post, but take it from me – if I could do it, anybody can. It takes less than 2 minute once you have all the material available (easy order from amazon, or from a store close-by)
  2. I gave myself the treatments (on hands) with the homemade iontophoresis machine as follows:
    • 10 minutes daily for 1st week
    • 10 minutes every alternate day for week 2
    • 10 minutes twice a week for week 3 & 4
    • 10 minutes once every week for week 5 – 8
    • 10 minutes every two weeks for month 3 onwards
  3. So, how did the homemade iontophoresis machine work for me?
    • i started noticing difference after week 1 – it wasn't complete relief, but I noticed that the sweat took longer to break, and once it broke, it wasn't as bad a before
    • By end of week 3, it was much better – my condition improved almost 80%
    • By end of week 6, i was more or less in maintenance mode. the sweat was still there once in a while, but the change was more than noticeable
    • I did not get any compensatory sweating (none that I noticed at least)
    • So, in summary – homemade iontophoresis machine DID work for me
  4. However – I did not continue the treatment with homemade iontophoresis machine for long. It basically became too much of hassle for me, even at once in two weeks frequency. here's what I think went wrong
    • The problem with homemade machine is well, its homemade, and thus not very friendly to use – you need to connect the wires yourself, place the plates, etc etc.. no big deal if done once, but over time, it became a deterrent for me after a few weeks
    • The machine is not readily portable and since I travel a lot, I started missing the sessions once the initial novelty wore off. it is difficult to carry the various pieces through airports
    • it also looked a bit outlandish, and i was not comfortable using the machine in front of other people. I think that if it was a better packaged machine, I might have considered that.
  5. So, in a nutshell
    • Homemade iontophoresis machine worked for me
    • However, it takes a lot of motivation to continue using the homemade iontophoresis machine  – the key issues being “user friendliness”, “portability” and “looks”

Thus, if you are on budget, a homemade iontophoresis machine is definitely is worth a shot IMHO. You can check out the instructions on how to make one here,. Else, if money is not a consideration really, you may just want to buy one of the popular iontophoresis machines. Good luck!

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About Author

I have had hyperhidrosis (palms and feet) since my childhood. I have tried/researched almost every treatment for hyperhidrosis over last decade, and in the process have acquired considerable experience that I hope will help others suffering with hyperhidrosis. I am happy to help you in whatever way I can to manage your excessive sweat problem - see the About page for more details and my contact information. Remember you are not alone, and that hyperhidrosis is entirely manageable with informed treatment. Good luck! PS: I recently published all that I have learnt about Hyperhidrosis in my book No Sweat! I encourage you to check that out as I believe its the best resource out there to understand and manage hyperhidrosis without falling for the miracle cures. Will love to hear your feedback on how to make it better.

52 Comments

  1. This would be much more readable if you would omit most of the superfluous use of the word “iontophoresis”. After at least the fifth reiteration, it can be easily surmised what “machine” you are discussing.

  2. Hello, thank you a lot for publishing this article, but i seem to be having an issue with this, when ever i try to put my hands at the same time i get an electro choc… what could be wrong with my devise?

    • Hi Asma,

      Thanks for the comment. It will be difficult for me t diagnose what may be wrong in your setup, but a very mild electric shock when you dip your hands into the water is perfectly normal. The circuit gets completed once you dip both the hands, and the current starts to flow giving a mild shock. This is a configuration for a basic iontophoresis machine. The professional machines come with circuits that prevent this shock by slowly increasing the voltage after detecting that the circuit is complete. Hope that makes sense.

      If this mild shock is a issue for you, you may want to look into commercial machines such as Fischer MD-1a, MD-2, Hidrex or Idromed. The reviews for those are available elsewhere on this website.

      Rohit

  3. How safe is the homemade iontophoresis? Are there any major side effects in the long run. I’m worried if it is bad for the heart, etc.

    • I would ask a Dermatologist. That said they are approved medical devices for sale all over the world. Guessing, if you have a pacemaker, maybe not a good idea

  4. For those looking for compact home made machine. I have had the RA fisher for years and found (3) 9 volt batteries wired in series for a total of 27 volts works much better than the $700 RA fisher for hands and I can just store them in a glasses case. I put together a similar home machine except with (3) 9 volt batteries in series. So total of 27 volts DC. Your body typically will allow around 20 to 30 milliamps of DC current just depending on body type. Females will normally allow more current than men. The 9 volt batteries typically store from 400 to 600 milliamp hours. So they can last close to 20 sessions at 20 or more minutes a side. You can get connections for 9 volt batteries at any Radio Shack or electronics store. You of course need three 9 volt battery connectors. Wiring these connectors in series is simply just positive to negative and then use wire nuts or electrical tape. There you have it, now just plug connectors to batteries and use wires with alligator clips, one to the positive of the 1st battery and negative of the 3rd battery and follow your instructions. Easy to find online how to wire series vs parallel if you need a diagram. Wiring in series increases the voltage. If 3 batteries is too much, you can wire 2 batteries in series for 18 volts. Be careful not to let positive and negative ends touch and treat as long as you can each session. As you go typically build tolerance and can go longer. Start at whatever is comfortable but try for at least 10 minutes and reverse for 10 minutes. I do 15 to 30 minutes before reversing negative and positive for another 15 to 30 minutes. Once sweat is eliminated which happens all at once, I find once every week or two for 15 minutes and reverse for 15 minutes works to maintain sweat free.

    • HyperhidrosisNetwork on

      This is a great configuration Daleh.. thanks for sharing this! I somehow missed this comment earlier.. but your device looks great.

      Did it work for you?

      • Yes it works just as well as those you buy, but cannot adjust current. Could do that if wanted to and it does not pulse which apparently makes treatments easier to tolerate. I made one modification to allow you to plug in wires so you do not risk alligator clips in coming into contact with each other. I found this plugin connector at Home Depot.

        • HyperhidrosisNetwork on

          Thanks… yeah, there is only that much you can do on a DIY ionto. But what you did is pretty impressive! Care to write a post detailing your method on making this machine?

    • Shadow of Earth on

      Hello Daley,
      I bought a power supply and set it to 18V and 0.03A but when i place both hands in the water (mineral water) it shows as 0.01A..does this mean my body only allows 0.01A? Will this affect the efectivity of the treatment?
      Im using 2 aluminium pans
      Thx!

      • Most commercial units produce around 15 to 20 milliamps DC current. You are at .01A or10 milliamps DC current. You can only try it and if not working that well maybe try increasing the DC voltage. Whatever you can tolerate comfortably. Worst case check out commercial units that pulsate. They are supposed to be more comfortable to use. Good luck. FYI, looks like your body is 1800 ohms in resistance. 18v / .01A = 1800 ohms. If that is accurate you can try 27 volts. 27V / 1800 ohms = .015A or 15 milliamps. http://www.ohmslawcalculator.com

        • Shadow of Earth on

          Problem is the meter is not precise only shows 0.01 but it could be 0.015 for example who knows.. I’ll up the voltage tho.
          I notice the aluminium kinda corroded first day and my hand was marked in the pan..i’m afraid the aluminium might be going into my body..

          • Not sure about that. If concerned you could try steel trays/pans or use plastic container with metal clip in water. Just need current to go through water.

  5. I made my own by using a 24VDC adapter that I just plug into the power outlet. No need for batteries. I hooked up the crocodile clamps and I use simple aluminum pans, the disposable ones you get 3 for a dollar. I picked up the adapter & clamps from a local hardware store, but you can get it anywhere, even online.

    I got thoracic sympathectomy so I need it only for my feet and they can take the high voltage. I’ve been using it for 2 years so far.
    First time I used it daily for about 40 min to an hour each time, switching the polarity in the middle.
    Switching the polarity is important. You can tell that the effect is much stronger on the side of the positive charge (red.) If you have a bruise it gets very painful on the positive side and you need to put some vaseline or a bandaid.

    during the weekend I used it for about three hours total.
    After about 20 days my sweating was almost gone.
    I don’t think it ever went away completely, but almost completely gone.
    On weekends when I’m more relaxed my feet don’t sweat at all.
    I’ve been maintaining for 2 years now by doing it about once a week for an hour (switching the polarity after 30 min.)
    I recently saw a neuro-surgeon in order to get Lumbar sympatehctomy.
    I stopped doing the treatment hoping I’d soon be rid of my problem.
    Three weeks later, for the first time in 2 years my condition came back full blast and I realized how bad it is without the treatment.

    I started again the treatment daily. A few days I used it for 2 hours straight because I noticed that the more you do it the faster you see results.
    It’s been a week and my sweat is down again. I learned my lesson and I’m not going to neglect doing the treatment at least once a week.

    I can tell you that I’ve never seen anyone who’s condition is more severe than mine.
    If it worked for me it will definitely work for you.

    Here are some tips that I picked up during the years I’ve been using this treatment.
    1. Don’t put too much water. Just enough so that your soles come in contact with the water (about an inch or so.)
    2. I live in Brooklyn and the water here is conductive enough. No need to add anything to it.
    3. Make sure you get really comfortable so that you can have long stretches of the treatment. I watch movies and even work while my feet are in the pans.
    4. Swap the positive & negative terminals at about half time so both sides get equal treatment. The side that has the positive terminal gets more intense current. I don’t know why that’s the case. I just know that when I have a cut it hurts much more on the side of the positive terminal.
    5. Most important-Don’t give up! I suffered for so many years and this is a real game changer.

    It’s obviously best just to get the operation, but I think this is definitely the second best.

  6. Hi Bobby, thanks for sharing your experience!
    Can you plz give me more details about the 24DC adapter ( images / links to get it online) and how many amperes ?

  7. Thanks a lot for this post I will definitely try this. I am just a student of age 16 from Nepal. My feet and palm of my hand sweats a lot. I have researched about it a lot and finally saw this post. I have less budget to buy the iontophoresis machine 🙁 . If home made iontophoresis machine works, my life could be changed I can regain my confident and manage my social life. Sweating of hand has really interfere my relationship. I always want to hold my girlfriend’s hand but I fell uncomfortable. Shaking hand with other, touching others are some common example. It has been so irritating for me even in the exam time. I cant draw, play guitar, even I am typing right now and my keypad of my laptop is full of sweats 🙁 . So could it be really cured by homemade iontophoresis machine?
    I’am trying this from today and If it works I will share with you all.
    Hoping for the good result.
    please Pray 😀 I’ll pray you back

    • HyperhidrosisNetwork on

      Good luck Sudeep.

      However, I just want to clarify one thing. Iontophoresis is not the only treatment for hyperhidrosis. There are several alternatives and depending on your situation, something other than Iontophoresis may work as well. So do not restrict yourself to Ionto device.

      For example – you can explore oral medication which is usually very effective, though has some side effects. You also have option of using special antiperspirants that may work on hands etc.

      All I am saying is that – Iontophoresis may or may not work and that is not the end of it. Also, ionto devices being expensive is not a reason to not pursue a treatment. There are other options. Try everything.. something will work within your budget!

      Good luck,

      • Confident are increasing on me. You are definitely right , there are other alternative treatment also. I am feeling great now and specially thank you so much for the support. 🙂 I will be sharing my condition & progress every week.

        • It has already been a week that I am using home made iontophoresis machine & it has been a lot of progress. I normally sweat but very few in a day I am happy with it. Once again thank you much for sharing this post. 🙂

          • hallo sudep? I can’t speak engglish, I hope you understand.
            are you use aquaphor baby? what you feel when you first use device? do you feel an electric shock? how big electric shock you feel? do you have social media like line? if you please add me id _line : mr_geops, I want to ask about your experience.

          • Hello Rahaman… yes it gives shock but don’t loose your hope. Once you put your both hands It will not give shock as like before. For about one week I was like totally scared but I said myself I have to do it and now i don’t scare… it has already change my life it sweats but very very less. It has already been 21 days since I have been using homemade iontophoresis machine and yeah I don’t use line 🙂
            best of luck buddy.. I’ll pray for 🙂

  8. Hi, I am rahman, 20th from Indonesia. I can’t spek English. My engglis very bad.

    I have hyperdosis in my palm and feet since childhood, and that’s very distubing my activities.

    I need a friends discussion. Because I have lot questions about iontophoresis device assembly,
    Please Add my blackberry pin 7A94B823 or email [email protected]
    or id line: mr_geops (I please add contact me),

    i want ask a question?
    I’ve bought equipment to made iontophoresis device, tell me,
    if there are less precise
    1. “Yuasa” accu/betery 12v 10 ah
    2. cable and clips (for connector)
    3. palte alumunium
    4. salt
    5. water

    I look at the video youtube
    him use aquaphor baby, i am not getting aquaphor in my location, does not
    matter? Not use aquaphor baby.

    After iontophoresis device already. When ever I try put my palm at seme times , I get
    electro shock… is normal? (Make me scares use the device)

    whether friends do experience the same thing?

    • HyperhidrosisNetwork on

      Hi Rahman,

      You dont need salt for the ionto treatment (unless your tapwater is so soft that it does not carry electricity… which I doubt)..

      You also do not need Aquaphor necessarily. It is used to prevent the uncomfortable sensation if you have a broken skin in the area where iontophoresis is being done. If you have broken skin, a simple petroleum jelly will do well too.

      For the homemade version, a mild shock when entering and leaving water for iontophoresis is normal. Its not dangerous and nothing to worry about. The commercial machines are able to detect the hands entering and leaving water and are able to slowly ramp up the voltage to prevent the shock. In the homemade version, tht will be difficult to do… its not a big deal in terms of treatment effectiveness.

      Hope this helps.

  9. Kamal Bandopadhyay on

    Hi Rohit/Geeks (who knows how to make it at home),

    I have Hyperhidrosis and I’m suffering since my birth from Palm n Feet sweating. I’m 36 yrs now and upon research I found the above article and also learnt how to make it from youtube. I have only one simple query here about the battery to be used :

    1) I have pasted the snaps of the battery I got from a shop (It says 12EB, I don’t know if thats equivalent to 12 volts). Let me know if I can use this battery to create the machine.
    2) If the above one is wrong, please let me know the specifications of the battery which I can buy in INDIA as the above Lantern 12 V battery is not available in India.
    3) Everyone asks what is the AH I require for 12 Volts battery, as all batteries are 12 volts with different AH mentioned like 7 AH, 7.2 AH , 7.5 AH, 5AH etc. So please let me know that as well.
    4) Do I specifically have to search for a battery which is Mercury free. Kindly let me know the Full Specifications of the battery so that I keep hunting in shops to get the equivalent battery for Lantern 12 V.

    Regards
    Kamal
    Email : [email protected]

    • HyperhidrosisNetwork on

      Hello Kamal,

      I cannot see the pictures of the battery that you say you posted.

      In any case, here is what I think. Please do your own diligence before acting on any of this!

      1. EB is not same as Volt. I am not sure what EB means in context of a battery.
      2. Any battery which provides 12 V of output will do fine. You can even use 8 normal alkaline AA batteries in parallel (each has about 1.5 Volt) to get to 12V. However, most likely you should be able to find a more convenient option in good electric shops. I am pretty sure they have a 12V battery in India. Here’s one I found on a quick search “http://www.snapdeal.com/product/exide-12v-7ah-batteries/674965215092”
      3. AH is Ampere Hour – is a unit of electric charge. This is roughly indicative of the capacity of the battery. For this particular case, that is immaterial. It will just imapct how long your batteries will last before you need new one
      4. You do not need mercury free battery necessarily as all you need is the current from the battery. Mercury free stuff is good for the planet though – so if you can, find a mercury free one!

      R

  10. Hey,
    I’ve done surgery where the incision was carried out on both sides below my armpits where they put titanium clips to the sweat glands where they sort of slow down the rate of sweat going to my hands about June 2015. And it helped, but my feet sweats like crazy sometimes for the whole day at school thus my palms became sweaty as well,and yea it really sucked.

    Was wondering could iontophoresis improve my state even after the surgery?And should i do it? Desperately need answers,fams!!! I feel you guys every single one of the 3% of the world,i’m with you.

    ~your fellow malaysian sweater

    • Shadow of Earth on

      iontophoresis does stop the sweating somewhat but you have to do it every day and there is a risk that you might be doing damage to your body because of the electricity and the electrodes of the type of metal you use and the heavy metals in tap water if you decide to use tap and not mineral. I stopped doing it because i feared i was doing more harm than good..yea sweating SUCKS but so does organ damage, cancer and tinnitus.

      • so u stopped doing it? & will it occur if im using drinking water and followed exactly the steps above? and whoa.. organ damage…? ????
        *thx for da reply fam ????

      • Almost everything that you just said is bullshit. Most of it has been disproven. As long as you are using normal batteries you should be fine, as the current density is low. Also the idea that the type of metal you use could cause tinnitus or cancer is a myth, and wtf do you mean about heavy metals in tap water?

      • I’ve read through your comments below, and I wouldn’t recommend using a power supply, as I think the issue in your case is that the current density of your setup was on the high side. I wouldn’t worry about any permanent or large damage, as you would have to have a very high current for it to be dangerous, but you have to be careful with your setup and make sure that you carefully modulate your current to be within 1-5 mA.

        As to the type of metal you use or the water itself, those are myths. A high current density is the only thing you should be careful of. And also maybe a very high voltage, for which I would recommend capping it at 50V max.

  11. Rosemarie gerones on

    I tried this but the aluminum pies I’ve used after one session lost already its conductivity. With this, i need two buy 2 aluminum pies every session. Is there such specific qualities i should look in buying aluminum pies?

  12. I’d like to clarify a few points to reply to many of the below comments. I am confident that you will know better what you are dealing with after reading this.

    Firstly, here are a few electronics basics.
    Any continuous current higher than 40 mA is considered as potentially dangerous if it lasts more than a few seconds. Iontophoresis machines usually allow a current up to 30mA.
    A wet human body has a resistance of about 1000Ohms. Using the formula R(Ohm) = U(Volt) * I (Amp), we can know how much Amp go through our body depending on the voltage.
    To find the current, the math is very simple : at 10 Volts, our body ‘eats’ 10 mA (I = 10V / 1000Ohm). Therefore, I wouldn’t advise to use any power source providing voltage higher than 30V.
    If you have a peacemaker or any particular condition (pregnant…) making you more receptive to current then you should really consider another treatment. Otherwise there is no much a 25 mA current can do to you.
    The type of battery you use will not affect the way your machine works. The only thing that matters is the voltage. You can place multiple small batteries in serie to add their voltage if required. The capacity expressed in Ah has nothing to do with the output current of the battery, it is only a capacity.
    Last thing about current : it is true that unlike iontophoresis machines, your hard-wired system will provide immediatly the max current, which may feel uncomfortable when touching the surface of the water. But the sensation fades away quite quickly, and to be honest I don’t think it’s worth hundreads of dollars to feel comfortable for a few seconds.

    I would personnaly not advise to use aluminium containers for this usage as is has been reported that some particles may go inside your body. I have personnaly used copper (which is used to provied water in your house so…) wires to provide power inside a simple plaster container, and covered the wire with a piece of tablecloth to avoid direct contact.

    • Hi JONAS

      Thanks for your useful comment but am still confused. Is it save to use 12v 1.2 amh battery is or not

      Thanks alot

  13. thanks for all of you for sharing information it was very useful and helpful but i have serious question .
    I been using 12v battery 1.2 A for about 3 months now is that so dangerous it’s no 1.2 MA it’s 1.2 A and after reading all this comment i am going to die ? 😂 if not what is the best voltage and amber to use in iontoderma .
    Thanks alot

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