Iontophoresis with alternating current and direct current offset (AC/DC iontophoresis): a new approach for the treatment of hyperhidrosis


Dr S. Reinauer, Department of Dermatology, Hein-rich-Heine-University, Moorenstr, 5, D-40225 Dusseldorf, Germany.


Summary Tap-water iontophoresis (TWI) using direct current (DC) is the most effective therapy in palmoplantar hyperhidrosis. Side-effects of this method are discomfort, with burning and tingling, and skin irritation, including erythema and vesicles. Incorrect use may induce iontophoretic burns at sites of minor skin injury. Elaborate safety measures are required to prevent electric shock.

The aim of this study was to minimize side-effects and to increase technical and safety standards of TWI, without loss of efficacy. In a controlled blind study, treatment of palmar hyperhidrosis by alternating current (AC) or by AC with DC-offset (AC/DC) was compared with the conventional DC method.

Palmar hyperhidrosis was completely controlled after an average of 11 treatments by either AC/DC iontophoresis or the conventional DC method. Virtually no effect was seen when AC without DC-offset was used for TWI. There were no signs of cutaneous irritation, or subjective sensations of discomfort when AC with or without DC-offset was employed. AC/DC iontophoresis should become the treatment of choice for palmoplantar hyperhidrosis.

The mechanism of action is unknown. It is hypothesized that an interrupted stimulus-secretion-coupling leads to a functional disturbance of sweat secretion.