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What do medical professionals use iontophoresis for?

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Quick Answer

Iontophoresis treats excessive sweating, termed hyperhidrosis, in the hands, feet, or underarms, reports MedlinePlus. It can also treat other conditions that include muscle spasms, ulcers, inflammation and tendinitis, according to Electrotherapy on the Web.

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Full Answer

Iontophoresis consists of applying a small electrical current to a water bath in which the patient submerges the afflicted body part. The current increases until the patient feels a slight tingling, explains MedlinePlus. The current drives ions through the skin pores or glands, notes Electrotherapy on the Web.

In the case of excessive sweating, iontophoresis "plugs" the sweat glands. For other conditions, the current delivers positively or negatively charged drugs or chemicals through the skin for noninvasive and efficient treatment. For example, a solution of calcium chloride treats muscle spasms through decreasing the excitability threshold of nerves in the muscle, reports Electrotherapy on the Web. Other drugs delivered through the skin using iontophoresis include hydrocortisone and prednisone for inflammation, acetic acid for calcium deposits in tendons, and salicylate for joint pain.

The treatment usually lasts around 30 minutes, but the time required may vary depending on the condition. The process requires several treatments to see a change in the patient's condition. Side effects include dryness, burning and blistering, according to MedlinePlus.

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