Vaniqa (Eflornithine) - Topical

What Is Vaniqa?

Vaniqa (eflornithine) is a prescription cream containing an ornithine decarboxylase (enzyme) inhibitor.

Vaniqa is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used on your skin (topically) but only on your face. It works by blocking an enzyme in your hair follicles called ornithine decarboxylase. The inhibition of this enzyme reduces the growth of hairs.

Vaniqa is available as an external use-only cream.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Eflornithine

Brand Name(s): Vaniqa

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Antiprotozoal drug

Available Generically: No

Controlled Substance: No

Administration Route: Topical

Active Ingredient: Eflornithine

Dosage Form(s): Cream

What Is Vaniqa Used For?

Vaniqa is indicated to reduce the growth of unwanted (excessive) facial hair, mainly in people who were assigned female at birth. Vaniqa should only be used on the skin of the face and chin.

Vaniqa is not a hair removal product; it does not remove hair. The product reduces hair growth and is effective for unwanted facial hair. If you stop using Vaniqa, it will result in hair growth. For hair removal, use techniques such as laser, shaving, or plucking.

How to Use Vaniqa

Read the patient information label carefully. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about Vaniqa.

Here is how to use Vaniqa step by step:

  1. Wait at least 5 minutes after hair removal (such as plucking or shaving) before applying Vaniqa.
  2. Wash and dry the affected area(s) on your face and chin.
  3. Apply a thin layer of Vaniqa only to the affected area(s).
  4. Do not wash the area(s) of your skin for at least 4 hours after you put on Vaniqa.
  5. Wash your hands immediately after you apply the product.
  6. Wait until the cream has dried completely before putting any other products on the face, such as cosmetics, moisturizers, or sunscreens.
  7. Apply Vaniqa twice a day, at least 8 hours apart, or as directed by your healthcare provider.

Vaniqa is for external use on the face only. Avoid contact with your eyes, mouth, nose, and other body parts. If you accidentally get Vaniqa on one of these areas, wash it off immediately.

Vaniqa may cause temporary redness, burning, stinging, or tingling—particularly on the area(s) damaged skin. If irritation continues, stop using Vaniqa and contact your healthcare provider.

Storage

Store Vaniqa at 15 to 30 degrees Celsius (59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Do not freeze the product. Keep all medications out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet.

If you plan to travel with Vaniqa, get familiar with your final destination's regulations. Make a copy of your Vaniqa prescription. Keep your medication in its original container from your pharmacy with your name on the label. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about traveling with your medicine.

Discard all unused and expired drugs. Do not pour them down the drain or in the toilet. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about the best ways to dispose of your medications or look for drug take-back programs in your area.

How Long Does Vaniqa Take to Work?

A reduction in the growth of hairs can be seen as early as four to eight weeks of treatment with Vaniqa. However, it may take longer for some people to see results.

What are the Side Effects of Vaniqa?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Some common side effects of Vaniqa include but are not limited to:

Most of these symptoms will go away when you stop (discontinue) the medication. However, you should talk to your provider before you stop using Vaniqa. Call your provider if you have side effects that are not getting better.

Severe Side Effects

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop any signs of a severe reaction while using Vaniqa. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening.

Serious side effects of Vaniqa and their symptoms include:

  • Allergic reactions (symptoms such as rash, hives, swelling of face, throat, or tongue, difficulty breathing).

Report Side Effects

Vaniqa may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Vaniqa Should I Apply?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For topical dosage form (cream):
    • For reduced rate of facial hair growth in women.
      • Adults and children 12 years of age or older—Coat the problem areas on the face and nearby areas under the chin with the medicine two times a day with the second treatment coming at least eight hours after the first.
      • Children under 12 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

The following changes (modifications) should be kept in mind when using Vaniqa:

Severe allergic reaction: Avoid using Vaniqa if you have a known allergy to it or its ingredients. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

Pregnancy: There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Vaniqa in pregnant people to determine the safety and effectiveness of using the cream during pregnancy. When used in pregnant people, the risk and benefit ratio of Vaniqa should be considered.

Breastfeeding: It is unknown whether Vaniqa (eflornithine) is excreted in human milk. Use caution with VANIQA in people who are lactating.

Adults over 65: No overall differences in safety were observed between people over the age of 65 years and younger people.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of Vaniqa have not been established in children under the age of 12 years.

Missed Dose

If you accidentally forgot to apply a Vaniqa dose, put it on as soon as you remember. If it's already close to your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and apply the following dose at your next scheduled dosing time. Do not double up to make up for the missed dose.

Try to find ways to help yourself remember to keep your appointments and take your medication routinely. If you miss too many doses, Vaniqa might be less effective in achieving your therapeutic goals.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Vaniqa?

There is limited information available about Vaniqa overdose. However, seek immediate medical attention if someone has accidentally swallowed the cream.

What Happens If I Overdose on Vaniqa?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Vaniqa, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after applying Vaniqa, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

If skin irritation occurs, reduce the frequency of treatments. If irritation continues, stop using the medicine and contact your doctor.

If no improvement is seen after six months of treatment, stop using the medicine and contact your doctor.

If condition gets worse while you use the medicine, stop the medicine and contact your doctor.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Vaniqa?

You should not apply Vaniqa on your skin if you are allergic to any part (componenet) of this formulation.

What Other Medications Interact With Vaniqa?

It is not known if Vaniqa has drug interactions with other topical drugs. Do not put other skin products on the affected area(s) without asking your healthcare provider.

Talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more detailed information about medication interactions with Vaniqa.

Tell your healthcare provider about any other medicines you take, including over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription products, vitamins, herbs, plant-based medicines, and other topical products.

What Treatments Are Similar?

Other options to remove unwanted facial hair are:

  • Waxing
  • Depilatories (creams that remove hair)
  • Shaving
  • Bleaching
  • Electrolysis
  • Laser treatments

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Vaniqa?

    Vaniqa is a topical cream approved by FDA for external use on the face only.  It contains eflornithine, which slows unwanted hair growth on the face in people who were assigned female at birth.

  • Does Vaniqa stop the growth of hairs?

    Vaniqa does not remove the hair. It reduces hair growth and is effective for treating unwanted facial hair.

  • How does Vaniqa work?

    Vaniqa works by blocking (inhibiting) a natural enzyme (ornithine decarboxylase) in the hair follicles that improves hair growth. The inhibition of this enzyme reduces hair growth and makes hairs lighter in appearance.

  • Can I use Vaniqa on other parts of the body?

    No, the FDA approved Vaniqa to be used externally only on the face and associated chin area. It must not be used on any other part of the body.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Vaniqa?

Unwanted facial hair is a bothersome problem that can cause a lack of self-confidence and be an emotional burden. Along with regular hair removal options, Vaniqa cream is a topical treatment that reduces the rate of growth and appears effective for unwanted facial hair on the face and chin area(s).

Vaniqa is not a permanent solution for unwanted hair. The growth of hairs reaches the initial stage eight weeks after stopping the treatment.

Vaniqa may cause temporary discomfort like redness, stinging, or rash on the facial skin. Folliculitis (hair bumps) may also occur. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to avoid adverse effects. Use the cream as advised to get maximum results.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Balfour JA, McClellan K. Topical eflornithine. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2001;2(3):197-201; discussion 202. doi:10.2165/00128071-200102030-00009.

  2. Food and Drug Administration. Vaniqa label.

  3. Shapiro J, Lui H. Treatments for unwanted facial hair. Skin Therapy Lett. 2005;10(10):1-4.