VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a safe and consumer-friendly treatment device for excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), which utilizes water as the active substance. The device is easy to use, light and portable, while it can also be used to absorb medication through the skin. The device consists of replaceable treatment electrodes, a small control unit that communicates wirelessly with a mobile phone, and a mobile phone software application. VTT is currently in the process of looking for a commercialiser for the solution.
The operation of the device is based on iontophoresis, a technique used to introduce charged particles into the skin by applying a local electric current. To solve the problem of excessive sweating, charged particles in tap water, i.e. the natural salts found in water, are introduced into sweat glands reducing sweating.
VTT's portable and light-weight device differs from existing commercial iontophoresis solutions by its smaller size, consumer-friendliness, mobile phone interface, and a higher degree of safety, as it is not connected to mains power during use. The device can be used in hospitals and beauty salons, as well as at home.
'The device can be adapted to different applications by tweaking the software and the control unit components and by changing the electrodes,' explains Project Manager Saara Tuurala from VTT.
'In addition to treating excessive sweating, the device can also be used to introduce substances such as anti-inflammatory drugs and cosmetics into the body locally, without breaking the skin.'
Mobile phone interface
The device consists of three elements: electrodes that are flexible, replaceable and disposable, a rechargeable control unit, and a mobile phone interface for operating the control unit.
In practice, the device works by connecting the control unit to the electrodes and choosing a treatment programme from the mobile phone application. If the problem area is the hands, a solution such as a water-based gel is applied to the treatment area and the hands are then placed onto the treatment electrodes. The treatment is switched on from the mobile phone. In the absence of an extra pair of helping hands, this can be done by setting a delay timer, after which the electrodes are activated automatically. Eventually the device could also be activated by speech.
Typically, treatment sessions for excessive sweating last for less than half an hour, which is initially repeated a few times a week. For maintenance, approximately one session a week is sufficient.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd developed the device as part of Tekes's TUTLI EBandage project and is now looking for a commercialiser for the device.
Caption: VTT's eBandage (front below) and a commercial device (back).
Photos can be downloaded by clicking.