How to Administer Iontophoresis
Iontophoresis is a treatment that uses an electric current to transmit a charge, and sometimes medications, underneath the skin’s surface. This treatment is used to increase blood flow and deliver pain medications to an injury and also can control the excessive sweating disorder called hyperhidrosis. Administration methods for iontophoresis treatment vary according to the exact nature of the problem.
Administering Iontophoresis for Pain Relief
Apply the transdermal medication to an adhesive electrode that will be attached to the skin.
Place the electrode firmly on the designated area of skin (where the injury or wound is located) and press down to be sure the entire surface is touching the skin.
Attach the wires from the portable generator to the electrode, making sure all connections are tight.
Turn on the generator and instruct your patient to tell you when the area to be treated feels tingly. The current should be strong but comfortable. The December 2004 issue of “Rehab Management” explains that iontophoresis for pain relief uses a varied current, depending on the size of the electrode being used, but generally ranges between 0.1 to 0.5 mA/cm2 (milliampere per squared centimeter).
Administer the treatment according to the prescription; some medications are administered through iontophoresis for less than an hour, while others may take 12 hours or more to be absorbed into the body.
Administering Iontophoresis as Hyperhidrosis Treatment
Pour tap water up to the fill line in the pans used to treat excessive sweating of the hands or feet. If your area has especially soft water, you may need to add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water.
Ask your patient to remove all jewelry before undergoing iontophoresis. The electric current used during the treatment could damage items or cause injury. Open wounds on the hands or feet can be protected from irritation with a thin covering of petroleum jelly, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society.
Make sure the wires connecting the pans to the conduction unit are securely fastened and that the patient’s hands or feet are placed in the basin of water. Turn on the current to the setting specified by the doctor. The strength of the electric current may depend on the severity of the sweating problems.
Administer the iontophoresis treatment for 20 to 40 minutes, then turn off the current and allow your patient to dry his hands or feet. Initial treatments may be required several times a week for one to two weeks before transitioning to a maintenance routine of once a month.