My First Experience with the Iontophoresis Device

A couple of months ago I was offered an opportunity to try an Iontophoresis machine for my Hyperhidrosis. The makers of the R.A. Iontophoresis device loaned me a prescription machine- the MD-1a Galvanic Unit! I have been working with Bill Schuler, R.A. Fischer president and long-time supporter of the International Hyperhidrosis Society, over the phone and via email for tips and coaching and updating him of my progress.

What is Iontophoresis, you ask?

Defined from the R.A. Iontophoresis website: “In cases where antiperspirants are not effective, a physician may recommend “Tap Water Iontophoresis” for treatment of palmar or plantar hyperhidrosis. In medical terms, iontophoresis is defined as the topical introduction of ionized drugs into the skin using direct current (DC).”

My first experience with this machine caused a lot of anxiety. I opened the case and saw a lot of wires and many booklets and sheets of paper with instructions.

Francis and I read through all the directions, we set up the machine and prepared the trays with tap water. This being the first time, it took us about an hour before we actually turned the machine on. I’m glad we went through everything thoroughly because I felt that the machine could be dangerous to me if something was set up incorrectly. Francis used to work for the American Red Cross and I was happy that his medical instincts took over as he carefully made sure everything was hooked up properly. He let me focus on calming my nerves. I already knew the general idea of the device as I had tried Iontophoresis about 10 years ago with no success, but this machine looked a lot more intense.

I opened the case to find that it conveniently slides apart to become two tap water trays. One metal plate rests in each tray and a cloth goes on top of the plates to avoid any direct contact with the skin. Each plate is connected by a wire to the main device where you change the level of milliamperes. The instruction booklet said that you should aim for setting the device to 12-18 milliamperes.

Finally, after making sure everything was hooked up correctly, I was ready for my first test with the device. Each of my hands rested in a tray on top of the cloth covering the metal plates. We were ready to turn the machine on.

Although I knew the machine was safe, I couldn’t help fearing that I would somehow be electrocuted and pass out once the power button was switched on. I could feel knots in my stomach and my breathing was fast. I was really nervous.

During the first treatment, Francis was responsible for working the device and changing the level of milliamperes. He counted to three and he turned the machine on.

Phew- I was okay!

Francis gradually increased the milliaperes to 12- we didn’t go any further than that on this first try.

What I noticed most was vibration. The vibration was pretty severe during my first try- vibrating my fingers, palms, wrist, and half-way up my forearm. If the sensation was getting to be too much, I asked Francis to lower the milliamperes slightly.

The vibration sensation was not painful, just a little uncomfortable.

After ten minutes, it is instructed to gradually decrease the milliamperes to 0, reverse the charge, then gradually increase again between 12-18. This lasted for another 10 minutes, and then my treatment was done for the day!

I was happy to find that the treatment wasn’t painful and that I felt safe. The treatment takes a lot of time, but I was able to watch TV during it. Watching TV also helped keep my mind off of any discomfort I felt with the vibration sensation.

I was also relieved that Francis was with me for my first treatment. He was very supportive and protective of me and made sure I was feeling okay.

After the first treatment was over, he wanted to try the machine to see what I was feeling! I let him try it very briefly, and we only went up to about 6-7 milliamperes. He could feel the vibrations from the plates.

This really showed me how much he supports me and that he was willing to step into my shoes, so to speak. His actions spoke largely about his character.

Stay tuned for another entry about my other treatments with the Iontophoresis device!



Carrying case for the R.A. Fischer Iontophoresis device. The case comes apart to become two tap water trays for the treatments.

Carrying case for the R.A. Fischer Iontophoresis device. The case comes apart to become two tap water trays for the treatments.

The milliamperes are adjusted on this device during treatments.

The milliamperes are adjusted on this device during treatments.

During my first treatment, I treated both of my hands at the same time because Francis was adjusting the milliamperes on the device.

During my first treatment, I treated both of my hands at the same time because Francis was adjusting the milliamperes on the device.



7 thoughts on “My First Experience with the Iontophoresis Device

  1. I am so glad you are testing the available treatments for hyperhidrosis. (They are out there!) This machine can be used for the palms and feet as well. The trick is to stick to the initial rigorous treatment regimen. I am sure it is explained in great detail in the leaflet, but generally the idea is that in the first couple of weeks it is done daily, and after that, once a week or once a fortnight, depending on the need. The thing is that many people give up/become lazy/disinterested because it appears tedious (and they think, “nah, there is a quick fix for this” – that is: sympathectomy, because that is what the many websites set up by the ETS surgeons suggest!). If you stick with the treatment, it WILL eliminate your palmo-plantar HH (according to the latest studies) in 90 % of patients. It has no known side-effect. One certainly has to be smart about how the machine is used and not tweak it too high for a faster effect!
    I would urge anyone who suffers from HH to give it a go. (I wish somebody would have talked some sense into me when I decided to go for the surgical “cure” before trying ionthoporesis…or other alternative treatments.)
    I am a young woman and a disability pensioner because of the elective surgical “cure” hor hyperhidrosis, sympathectomy. Not only that, my palmar HH came back in about a year and is worse now than before the surgery. Even though it came back, it did not reduce the so-called “compensatory” sweating.
    The surgery is a big con, not even the surgeons understand that changes that occur after the nerve injury they cause in the name of curing hyperhidrosis.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I have a family member that suffers from HH (hands and feet). Do you have an update on your situation? Has the treatment worked for you? Thanks again for having the courage to tell your story.

    gene r

    • Hi Gene!

      Thanks for your comment! I’m really happy that you found my blog, and I hope you share it with your family member. I also hope it gives you some insight on how HH impacts our lives.

      The Iontophoresis device is fantastic! It worked really well for me, when I was maintaining my treatments. The problem is it takes a lot of time- 40 minutes every other day for 10 treatments, then once every week or every two weeks. With my busy schedule, it was difficult to keep up.

      My sweating has returned, but I am going to start up treatments again and will update my blog with my progress.

      I’ve also tried Glycopyrrolate (Robinol), a pill taken twice a day. This really helped for a long time. It’s worth a look into!

      Thanks again,

  3. Pingback: 100th Blog Post – Three Years of Just a Little Sweat | Just a Little Sweat

  4. I recently came across your blog. I too have vet sweaty hands… And feet 😕. I just purchased an iontophoresis machine . The md 1. I was wondering how long it took you to notice big results. I have done two treatments and not noticed that much.

    • Hi Haidon! I’m glad you are trying iontophoresis. Keep at it. I didn’t notice results until the 8th or 10th treatment, and I was doing treatments every other day for 40 minutes each. After that, I only needed to do a treatment once a week.

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