Twin Cities Dermatology Center

SkinVestments

Vaniqa: Kiss those chin hairs goodbye with this cream!

Vaniqa ( eflornithine hydrochloride 13.9% cream) is an FDA-approved topical treatment for unwanted facial hair on the lower face and chin in women. This condition is called facial hirsutism and is characterized by an abnormal hair growth pattern of hair on a woman's face. As women age, and even in some young women, increased facial hair is related to changes in sex hormones and may become bothersome. Other conditions related to androgen excess, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, may also lead to an increase in unwanted facial hair. Here is what you should know about Vaniqa before using it.

Vaniqa

1. Yes, the science behind this treatment is well-studied. We know it inhibits a specific enzyme called ornithine decarboxlyase. For the biology lovers out there, this enzyme is critical for the growth phase of the hair cycle and eflornithine blocks it to irreversibly reduce the growth of hairs in the treated area.

2. Results can be seen as soon as four to six weeks after use at twice a day application.

3. OK, it helps milder cases of hirsutism. If there is significant growth in facial hair, it may not appear to be very effective and additional hormonal control may be needed with topical Vaniqa.

4. No, it does not cure unwanted facial hair. If you stop its use, the hairs will eventually grow back as they have in the past.

5. This is an FDA-approved drug so a prescription is needed from a health care provider to obtain this treatment.

6. It can help alleviate and prevent skin discoloration, ingrown hairs, irritation, and scars that result from plucking, shaving, and waxing facial hairs.

7. Most common side effects include allergic contact reactions and skin irritation.

8. It may improve the outcome of hormonal treatments and laser hair removal for hirsutism when used simultaneously with these other therapies.

In terms of SkinVestments, Vaniqa is a gentle way to topically manage a condition that can be embarrassing, bothersome, and even disfiguring to women, especially as they age. However, it's aim is to reduce the hair burden and is not a cure. It does require daily to twice daily application to be effective and ongoing use. A 45 gram tube of Vaniqa is about $150 to $200 a tube. Once hairs have been reduced sufficiently, one could step down to once a day application for maintenance. A tube could last anywhere from one to six months depending on the treated area. This is a bona fide treatment for hirsutism and should be considered if hormonal or more technical hair removal procedures ( laser, electrolysis, waxing/plucking/shaving) are not desired.

References:

1. Allergan Vaniqa Prescribing Information. http://www.allergan.com/assets/pdf/vaniqa_pi.pdf

2. Bode D, et al. Hirsutism in women. Am Fam Physician. 2012 Feb 15;85(4):373-80.

3. Somani N. Turvy D. Hirsutism: an evidence-based treatment update. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2014 Jul;15(3):247-66.