Vaniqa

Vaniqa

Vaniqa is a topical (when a product is applied directly to the skin) cream that is used for the treatment of unwanted facial and chin hair in women. This condition is known as hirsutism and is common as women get older, but can occur in younger women too. More information

A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.

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Patient Leaflet(s)

Vaniqa is a long-lasting remedy that is used to treat excess facial hair in women (hirsutism). Regular use of this product helps to slowly reduce the amount of excess hair growth that a woman can experience for various reasons. It is the brand name for eflornithine. 

This product is a cream that is topically applied to the skin. 

What is Vaniqa? 

Vaniqa is a topical (when a product is applied directly to the skin) cream that is used for the treatment of unwanted facial and chin hair in women. This condition is known as hirsutism and is common as women get older, but can occur in younger women too. Hirsutism can also affect other parts of the body, but Vanquia cream should only be used on the face and chin as it has not been clinically tested for other parts of the body. 

Hirsutism can occur due to an excess amount of androgens. Androgens are predominantly a male hormone which is why men usually have more facial and body hair than women. However, androgens are also produced by a woman’s ovaries and convert into oestrogen. An androgen disorder in women can cause excess facial hair. 

The active ingredient in this product is eflornithine hydrochloride 13.9%, which inhibits the growth of excess facial hair. 

It works by penetrating the hair follicles (roots) and affecting the enzyme, ornithine decarbolylase, that causes the hair to grow. Vaniqa is a medicinal cream that takes time to work and has to be prescribed by a doctor. It can take 1-2 months for a difference to be seen in the speed and reduction in the thickness of the hair growth. 

Vaniqa cream treats this common problem at the source (the hair follicle) and can give a woman the confidence to know that there is a way to control her excess facial hair growth, without the need for constant hair removal. 

Vaniqa is not a depilatory product (hair removal product). Depilation, such as shaving, waxing, bleaching, epilation and tweezing removes the hair. Vaniqa stops it growing. However, treatment with Vaniqa cream must be continued for it to be effective. If you stop the treatment the hair growth is likely to return. This product can be used long-term but should be discontinued or the dose reduced if any side effects occur. 

When is Vaniqa used? 

All women have fine and light hair on the face, chin and upper lip. This hair is known as vellus hair and serves the purpose of regulating the temperature of the body. But sometimes this can be dark and thicker than normal, which can cause embarrassment and discomfort. The appearance of excess facial hair in women can be upsetting and may cause a desire to stay in and not go out in public. This condition can be treated with Vaniqa cream. 

Vaniqa cream is a convenient way to remove unwanted and thick, dark facial hair and can drastically reduce the time a woman spends on this procedure. 

Excess hair growth can be caused by different reasons. A common reason is the menopause when a woman’s body goes through many hormonal changes. However, there can be other reasons, possibly due to changes in hormone levels, which is why it is essential to talk to a doctor if you suffer from this condition. This is particularly important if you experience sudden excess hair growth as Vaniqa cream treats the symptoms, not the cause of the problem. 

Vaniqa cream should only be used on the face and chin, and sometimes the top of the neck, not other areas of the body. It should not be used by men, children under 12 years of age or pregnant or breastfeeding women. 

How do you use Vaniqa? 

Vaniqa cream is applied every day externally to the face and chin at the location of the excess hair growth. You must not put it on any other areas of the body and must only use a pea-sized amount at the frequency prescribed by your doctor. You should allow at least eight hours between applications. 

It is usually applied twice a day for 4-8 weeks at first and then reviewed by a doctor to see if it has been effective. During this time you should continue with the other hair removal methods you normally use as it is not likely to have an immediate effect. 

Before using Vaniqa cream you should first remove any unwanted facial hair in the normal way. Wait at least 5 minutes before you apply the Vaniqa cream to avoid any irritation to the skin. 

Before using Vaniqa you should wash your hands thoroughly. The cream is then applied after also cleaning and drying the area of excess hair growth. There must be no other traces of products on the skin, such as moisturiser, sun cream or makeup. 

You apply a thin layer of this product evenly over the area of the face and/or chin to be treated and gently rub it in using the fingers. You should not wash this area for at least four hours after the application and neither should you touch the area. The cream should also be fully absorbed (about 5 minutes) before you apply any cosmetics, and these should only be applied lightly. 

Wash your hands again after applying Vaniqa.  

It is important to be patient as sometimes it can take up to two months for any significant results to be seen. The time it takes to see a change in hair growth and the level of change will depend on the individual situation.  

If you experience slight skin irritation after using Vaniqa cream you can try reducing the application to once a day until it clears up. If you have a severe reaction (see side effects below) you should discontinue the use of this medicine immediately and talk to your doctor. It is possible for there to be a reaction several months after beginning to use Vaniqa, it may not only be when you first start using it. 

If no improvement is seen after 6 months the treatment should be discontinued as it is not working. If Vaniqa is not a successful treatment for you it is advisable to discuss the alternatives with your doctor. Once you stop using this medication you can expect the excess hair growth to return to the previous levels within 8 weeks. 

Vaniqa can be used long-term for the treatment of excess facial hair. It will not continue to work if treatment is stopped. 

What dosages are there? 

The common dose is one small application of Vaniqa cream twice a day, on clean, dry skin. You should leave at least eight hours between applications to allow the medication to work correctly. 

You should never use this product more than twice a day to try and speed up the effectiveness of the treatment. 

Vaniqa is for external use only. 

What are the side effects of Vaniqa? 

As with all medicines, using Vaniqa can have some side effects. This will depend on your individual situation and whether you are taking any other medication. It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking other medicines before starting to use Vaniqa cream. 

The side effects of Vaniqa can include: 

  • Stinging; 
  • Soreness; 
  • Redness; 
  • Mild acne; 
  • Skin irritation; 
  • Dry skin; 
  • Ingrown hairs; 
  • Rash; 
  • A tingling sensation. 

If you experience any of these side effects, you should talk to your doctor. They may wish you to reduce the dose or completely stop using the product. Women with sensitive skin may be particularly vulnerable to the side effects this medication can cause, so it is important to do a spot test when you first start using it. 

When shouldn’t you use Vaniqa? 

Do not use Vaniqa if you are allergic to any of the ingredients on the package leaflet. 

Vaniqa should not be used by men. 

Neither should it be used by girls under 12 years of age. 

You should not use Vaniqa if you are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding as at the time of writing no clinical studies have been carried out on these situations. 

Pay attention if you have broken skin when using Vaniqa as it may cause irritation. It is not advisable to use this product on wounds, sunburned, windburned, chapped or dry skin. 

Does Vaniqa interact with other medications? 

As with all medicines, Vaniqa can interact with other medications. 

You should tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including herbal medicines, before taking Vaniqa. 

It is also important to know that taking any of the medicines below can increase a woman’s levels of androgen and prompt excessive hair growth:  

  • Androgens; 
  • Progestogens; 
  • Anabolic steroids (topically or systemically); 
  • Danazol; 
  • Minoxidil. 

Vaniqa does not have an effect on driving or the use of machinery. Neither does alcohol have any effect on Vaniqa cream. 

Where can you buy Vaniqa? 

You need a prescription from a doctor to buy Vaniqa at a pharmacy. 

Can I get Vaniqa without a prescription?  

No. Vaniqa is a prescription only medicine. 

Sources 

Excessive hair growth (hirsutism). (2019, July 9). Retrieved February 29, 2020 from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hirsutism/ 

Hirsutism. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hirsutism/symptoms-causes/syc-20354935 

How Vaniqa Works. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2020 from http://www.vaniqa.com/how-vaniqa-can-help 

James, S. (2019, August 14). Healthy Women. Androgen. Retrieved March 2, 2020 from https://www.healthywomen.org/condition/androgen 

Package leaflet: information for the user Vaniqa 11.5% cream. Eflormithine. 4 (2011, March). Retrieved March 2, 2020 from https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/docomimg2.s3.amazonaws.com/leaflets/en/patient_information_leaflet-2120-vaniqa-uk.pdf-1510756508.pdf 

Vaniqa Cream. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2020 from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-19859/vaniqa-topical/details 

Assessed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner
Registration number: GMC: 4741365

Dr Imran Malik studied undergraduate medicine at King's College University in Central London and clinical studies at the prestigious King's College Hospital. He graduated with a MBBS degree in 2000 and went on to gain postgraduate memberships with the Royal Society of Medicine and also General Practice in 2006.