Iontophoresis is a transdermal delivery system in which a substance carrying a charge is delivered through the skin by a low electrical current. Think of it as an injection without a needle. Its application in skin care is being investigated for its potential to deliver large molecules that would otherwise not be absorbed into the skin.
Iontophoresis is currently used in a wide range of dermatological applications including:
- Treatment of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) by obstructing the sweat glands
- Delivery of iron/titanium oxide for tattoo removal
- Delivery of histamine in allergy testing
- The diagnosis and monitoring of Cystic Fibrosis
Iontophoresis has been used in skin care to minimize wrinkles, eliminate pigment blemishes, soften scars and normalise skin. This has only shown to be effective when treatments contain the right ingredients, at the right concentration and at the correct pH. The skill of the practitioner is also deemed very important. Ingredients including Vitamin C and retinol have been used successfully to minimize the appearance of blemishes and lighten scars.
You can now find an at home iontophoresis device in Nu Skin’s pricey Galvanic Spa. While the website advertises many customer testimonials, I searched long and hard for studies or evidence to support their claims but could find none. What’s even more annoying is that you have to purchase the accompanying (and high priced) treatments to use with the device. The low grade electrical stimulation probably irritates more than it benefits skin and given the lack of any evidence to support its efficacy I’d give it a miss. If it’s iontophoresis that you want, find a good professional to deliver the results and spring for the real thing.