Eflornithine cream (Vaniqa)

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Apply a thin layer of eflornithine cream twice a day (eight hours apart). Rub the cream in well.

You can apply cosmetics over the cream, but wait for at least five minutes after applying the cream before you do so.

It can take about eight weeks of using the cream regularly before you see an improvement.

Type of medicineA skin cream to reduce hair growth
Used forReducing unwanted facial hair for women (if caused by a medical condition or treatment)
Also calledVaniqa®
Available asCream

Some hormonal disorders in women can lead to the growth of thick or dark facial hair, called hirsutism. Hirsutism can also be a side-effect of taking some medicines. It occurs either as a result of an increased production of an androgenic hormone (such as the male sex hormone testosterone), or because the skin has become more sensitive to this type of hormone.

When applied to the skin, eflornithine works by blocking the action of an enzyme in hair follicles which is involved in the production of hair. It can be used alongside laser therapy, to help reduce the rate at which unwanted facial hair grows in women who have this problem.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using eflornithine cream it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine or skin cream.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about eflornithine cream and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from using it.
  • If you have just used a hair remover or shaved, leave at least five minutes before you apply eflornithine cream. This will help to reduce any stinging or burning, which could otherwise occur.
  • Apply eflornithine cream twice a day to the areas of your face or chin which are affected. You should leave at least eight hours between the two applications. You only need to apply a thin layer of cream and you should rub it in well (until you can no longer see any cream on your face). Try not to get any cream in or near your eyes or mouth, as it may cause irritation.
  • After applying the cream, you should wash your hands to remove any cream left on your fingers but, if possible, do not wash your face during the following four hours.
  • Eflornithine cream is not a depilatory cream. You may need to continue with your usual hair removal routines. Ways to remove unwanted hair include shaving, plucking, waxing, hair-removing creams, electrolysis, and laser treatments. Your doctor wil advise you about which of these are suitable for you to use alongside eflornithine cream.
  • If you want to apply make-up to the areas of skin that you've applied the cream to, you can do this, but please wait for at least five minutes after applying eflornithine cream before you do so.
  • It is important that you use the cream regularly. It can take about eight weeks before you start to see the full benefit from using it. If after four months of using the cream there is little improvement, please discuss this with your doctor who will review your treatment.
  • Eflornithine cream must not be used by men, or girls under 18 years old.

Along with their useful effects, medicated skin creams can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with eflornithine cream. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with the cream. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common eflornithine side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 women)What can I do if I experience this?
AcneIf troublesome, speak with your doctor
Common eflornithine side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 women)What can I do if I experience this?
Skin irritation, itching, dryness, rednessTry applying the cream just once a day for a few days to allow your skin to recover. If the irritation continues, speak with your doctor for further advice

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the cream, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Eflornithine cream is for use on the skin only. If someone swallows some of it by accident, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine, ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Vaniqa® 11.5% cream; Almirall Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated July 2014.
  • British National Formulary; 69th Edition (Mar 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
13911 (v2)
Last Checked:
18/08/2015
Next Review:
17/08/2018
The Information Standard - certified member

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