Tap water iontophoresis in the treatment of pediatric hyperhidrosis

J Pediatr Surg. 2017 Feb;52(2):309-312. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2016.11.026. Epub 2016 Nov 14.


Aim of the study: The treatment options for localized hyperhidrosis include antiperspirants, anticholinergics, iontophoresis, botulinum toxin and surgery. Tap water iontophoresis (TWI) involves immersing the affected area in tap water and passing a small electrical current through the area. Our aim was to assess the success of this therapy in a pediatric cohort.

Methods: Retrospective case note review of all patients younger than 18years who underwent TWI between 2002 and 2015. Demographic data, number of treatment sessions, side effects and overall success were analyzed. Individuals undergo 7 treatments over 4weeks. A positive outcome was determined as an improvement in symptoms. Pre- and posttreatment hyperhidrosis disease severity scale (HDSS) was measured. Data are presented as mean (range). Statistical analysis was by paired t-test. A P value of <0.05 was regarded as significant.

Results: There were 43 patients (30 females) with a mean age of 15 (8-17) years. Palmar and/or plantar hyperhidrosis (PPH) was present in 39/43 (91%) patients. Axillary hyperhidrosis (AH) was present in 19/43 (44%) patients. All patients (with the exception of one) underwent 7 sessions (5-7). Side effects included paresthesia (88%), pruritus (26%), pain (26%), erythema (14%), dryness (12%) as well as vesicle formation and abrasions in one patient (2%). A positive outcome was found in 84% (36/43) of patients. There was a significant reduction in mean HDSS (pre 3.5 vs. post 2; P=0.0001).

Conclusion: TWI is a safe and effective modality of treatment for both PPH and AH in the pediatric population, with minimal side effects. Pediatric surgeons should offer this treatment option before considering more invasive surgical procedures.

Level of evidence: IV: Retrospective study.

Keywords: Compensatory sweating; Hyperhidrosis; Tap water iontophoresis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Axilla
  • Child
  • Female
  • Foot
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Hyperhidrosis / diagnosis
  • Hyperhidrosis / therapy*
  • Iontophoresis / adverse effects
  • Iontophoresis / methods*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Water*


  • Water