Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health

Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis

Definition

Iontophoresis is a procedure that uses a small electric current to increase the permeability of the skin.

Purpose

Iontophoresis is used for several distinctly different purposes. These include:

  • to perform a "sweat test" to diagnose cystic fibrosis.
  • to treat excessive sweating of the hands and feet (hyperhidrosis) that does not respond to prescription antiperspirant treatment
  • in physical therapy to deliver drugs locally to musculoskeletal disorders such as tennis elbow
  • to deliver drugs to treat localized skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.

Precautions

Pregnant women, people with large metal implants, and people with implanted pacemakers should not have iontophoresis. In other people, the electric current used on the skin is very low and is not harmful. However, there have been cases where burns and electric shocks have been caused by equipment malfunctions. …