Iontophoresis is a treatment for excessive sweating, which using currents of electricity. It is usually very effective for treating hyperhidrosis in the hands and feet, but may be less effective when treating the armpits. The procedure involves placing the hands and feet in a bowl of water and a weak current of electricity is then passed through the water. If the armpits are being treated, special pads are placed in the armpits and the current is passed through the pads. The treatment is thought to work by encouraging the outer layer of skin to thicken, which then blocks the sweat from drenching the skin's surface. The procedure is very safe with no chance of electrocution and although it is not painful it may cause some tingling.

How is it carried out?

Iontophoresis is carried out in a series of sessions and most people require around 2-4 sessions per week, with each session lasting for about 20-30 minutes. You will usually start to notice an improvement within 2 weeks of starting treatment and once your symptoms start to improve, you will have treatment sessions less frequently.

How effective is it?

Iontophoresis is a very effective treatment, with figures showing that it is effective in between 80 and 90 percent of cases. However, there is one major disadvantage and this is that patients have to visit the dermatology unit at their local hospital for treatment. Home kits are available to buy, but they can cost up to £500. Iontophoresis is not suitable for pregnant women, people who have a pacemaker and people who have pins or plates (to repair broken bones, for example).

Iontophoresis is very good for the treatment of palms and feet and in some cases armpits, but for excessive sweating from other areas of the body other procedures may be required.