Patient Leaflets Team

  • Reference Number: HEY-951/2017
  • Departments: Dermatology


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your procedure.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

What is Iontophoresis?

You have probably been troubled by some symptoms and following discussion with your doctor they have recommend you undergo Iontophoresis treatment. Iontophoresis is the process by which a tiny electronic current is passed through water to your hands, feet or armpits.  It is a process we use in the Dermatology Department to treat people who suffer with excessive sweating of the hands or feet or armpits.  This involves the movement of ions across biological membranes by means of an electric current.

Why do I need Iontophoresis

The aim of Iontophoresis is to reduce excessive sweating a condition called Hyperhydrosis. This will have been offered due to alternative treatments being unsuccessful.

Can there be any complications or risks?

This treatment can cause some side effects, but these are usually mild:

  • Pinprick bruising if the power level gets to high. This will disappear after a few days
  • A tiny shock (not dangerous) if you break the electric circuit by removing a hand or foot out of the water during treatment
  • The metal electrodes are protected from your skin, but if touched may cause a sensation of burning.

How do I prepare for the treatment?

Please read the information leaflet.  Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support.  There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you following this examination. This treatment is suitable for most people who suffer with excessive sweating of the hands, feet or armpits. However, there are some exceptions. If any of the following apply to you, then please contact us and discuss your treatment with the nurse.

  • Are you pregnant or trying to get pregnant?
  • Do you have a cardiac pacemaker?
  • Do you have any orthopaedic implants e.g. pins, plates or dynamic hip screws? (Treatment may depend on the size and location of these)

What will happen?

The treatment consists of seven sessions spread over one month. It is important that you attend all seven appointments as follows.

A nurse in the Dermatology Department will carry out the procedure. You will be asked to place your hands and feet into small plastic baths filled with tap water or you will be asked to put pads soaked in water under your arms depending on the area being treated.  The nurse will increase or decrease the power, according to the amount of intensity you can tolerate. The power is increased or decreased by pressing buttons on the control pad, which the nurse will operate. Treatment consists of either two 10 minute sessions or two 15 minute sessions at each visit, depending on whether your hands or feet are being treated.  The treatment time will be the same at each visit, but you may tolerate an increase in power as your skin gets used to the treatment. The nurse will stay with you while you are receiving the treatment and will be happy to answer any of your questions. Your treatment will end when all seven treatments have been completed. If you have found it successful then you would be advised to consider purchasing a machine for home use to administer maintenance doses when required.

What happens afterwards?

It must be acknowledged that this is not a cure for excessive sweating but a management option.  Following treatment you will be either discharged from the Dermatology Department or if the treatment was unsuccessful then a follow up will be arranged to discuss further options with your doctor/consultant.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Dermatology Department (01482) 816626 Monday to Friday – 09:00 to 17:00

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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