Report on Vaniqa Side Effect and Usage by AskDocWeb

About Vaniqa

A Picture of a tube of Vaniqa.

What is Vaniqa?

Vaniqa is the first prescription drug approved for the treatment of excessive facial hair in women. (July 2000) It is an enzyme inhibitor used topically to slow the growth of unwanted facial hair. It’s estimated that 20 million American women are bothered enough by facial hair to remove it once a week. Now you have a way to slow the growth of that unwanted hair.

This medicine is not a depilatory. It doesn’t remove hair. You’ll need to continue your routine method of hair removal while using this medicine. You may not see improvement for the first month of use. If your symptoms don’t improve or become worse, check with your doctor.

Vaniqa, like many other medication, was originally developed for the treatment of something else. In this case, African sleeping sickness (Trypanosoma brucei gambiense). When the affect on hair growth was noticed, it was developed not only for sleeping sickness, but also for the reduction of facial hair and hair on the neck.

The chemical name for Vaniqa is eflornithine (eh-FLOOR-neh-theen) hydrochloride.

How does Vaniqa work?

Vaniqa works by inhibiting ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme in the hair follicle of the skin that stimulates hair growth.

Apply a thin layer of Vaniqa to the affected areas of the face and under the chin, at least 5 minutes after hair removal (e.g., plucking, shaving). Rub it in thoroughly. Don’t wash the treated area for at least 4 hours. Wait at least 8 hours between applications of this medicine. Cosmetics or sunscreens may be applied after Vaniqa has dried. (5 to 10 minutes)

What side effects do users of Vaniqa report?

Reported side effects that may go away during treatment, include stinging/tingling skin, burning, redness, rash of the skin; or hair bumps (folliculitis) and acne. If they continue or are bothersome, check with your doctor.
Side effects list updated 4/7/2011:

  • acne: 10.8% to 21.4%
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae: 4.9% to 16.3%
  • stinging skin: 4.1% to 7.9%
  • headache: 3.8% to 5%
  • burning skin: 3.5% to 4.3%
  • pruritus (intense itching): 3.1% to 4%
  • tingling skin: 2.2% to 3.6%
  • dry skin: 1.8% to 3.3%
  • rash: 1.5% to 2.8%
  • alopecia (hair loss): 1.5% to 2.5%
  • erythema (abnormal skin redness from dilation of blood vessels): 1.3% to 2.5%
  • dyspepsia (indigestion): 1.9% to 2.5%
  • dizziness: 1.3% to 1.5%
  • skin irritation: 1% to 1.8%
  • anorexia: 0.7% to 2%
  • nausea: 0.5% to 1%
  • folliculitis (inflammation of a hair follicle): 0.5% to 1%
  • facial edema or swelling: 0.3% to 3%
  • ingrown hair: 0.3% to 2%
  • asthenia (abnormal loss of strength): 0% to 1%

Side effects reported in less than one percent of patients include bleeding skin, cheilitis, contact dermatitis, herpes simplex, numbness, and rosacea.

What are the symptoms of overdose or something gone wrong?

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience bleeding skin, or swelling of the face or lips.

If you miss a dose of Vaniqa

Skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Don’t apply 2 doses at once.

Conditions you should tell your Doctor about before taking Vaniqa:

Inform you doctor of any medical condition, broken skin, sores on the face or allergies.

For women: If you plan on becoming pregnant, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of using this medicine during pregnancy. It is unknown if this medicine is excreted in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you are using this medicine, check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the risks to your baby.

Tell Your Doctor if you’re taking any of the following medicines:

All prescription and over-the-counter medicine, including any facial or skin creams, that you are taking.

Storing Vaniqa

Store at room temperature (77 degrees F or 25 degrees C) in a tightly closed container, away from heat, light and children. Brief storage between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C) is permitted, but don’t freeze it.

General Notes

This medicine is not for use in children under 12 years of age.

In those who discontinued use, hair growth returned to pretreatment levels after 8 weeks.

Visible improvement usually requires between 4-8 weeks.

You can use normal cosmetics or sunscreen with Vaniqa, but wait 5-10 minutes to allow it to be absorbed before applying them.

Vaniqa is currently only approved for use on facial hair and beneath chin. Use on other parts of the body are being studied.

At the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in March 2000, reports were that 70% of women who used it showed improvement and 35% were classified as “clinical success” (those who’s facial hair was completely or almost completely cleared).

Common Misspellings for Vaniqa

Vaniqa is often misspelled, as many people hear the word verbally, write it down and spell it incorrectly. Here are a few of the most common misspellings for Vaniqa: Vaniqas, vaniqua, vaniq, vanika, and vanica.

Vaniqa Feedback

If you’ve used Vaniqa, please help others by sharing your experience with side effects. What would you tell someone who was considering using this product? Please remember that we do not give medical advice. That is for your local health care provider, who is familiar with your medical history. You can use the form below to add your comments,
feedback or Vaniqa review.

Subj: I recommend this product

Date: 8/6/2003

Hi, I highly recommend vaniqa to all women having trouble with excess facial hair.

I used it as per the prescription for about 2 months ( 1 tube ) and I notice a 50% reduction in the amount of hair. Also the more thicker and coarse hair are all gone already and only the fine ones are remaining. The problem is much more dealable now by other methods and my constant tension, nervousness and loss of self esteem are under control.

I thank the makers of this product from the bottom of my heart.

Subj: Less frustrating
Date: 6/18/2004
I have used Vaniqa for over two years. I have maintained at lest a 50% reduction in hair growth with tinner and lighter growth as well. It is much less frustrating to spread a cream on my chin and upper lip twice a day and pluck a few hairs if needed than the twice a day ritual I had of extensive tweezing- that only gets harder with 46 year old eyes.


Subj: Feedback on Vaniqa
Date: 5/30/2005
I saw this product advertised and quickly asked my dr. for a prescription. It was expensive (around $35 maybe) a few years ago? Had no effect on my facial hair at all. Was 48 at time of use. Did make my skin feel softer at application points. After I used like they said, I reported back to dr. She said one of the nurses in her office also use with no results. Said only about 35% of users get results.


Subj: Phenomenal success with Vaniqa
Date: 11/2/2005
I have been using Vaniqa for about 3 months. The change has been phenomenal as I had a very bad hair growth, side burns, beard and moustache and all over my neck. It was black and thick hair and had started to feel like mans stubble as I used a tweezing machine that made it worse. Hairs not hardly growing back, the thick black patch has gone.


Subj: Vaniqa for facial hair
Date: 11/5/2005
I am transgender from Nepal. I want to use vaniqa to get rid of facial hair. How can I have it? Please help me. Bye,


AskDocWeb: Vaniqa is a prescription drug. You will have to talk to your doctor about this.

Subj: Advice for first time users
Date: 11/30/2005
Although Vaniqa costs me $50+ a tube, it lasts several months. I use it above and below my lips and around and under my chin. It really works if used twice a day. First time users should be very patient as it takes a while to become effective.


Subj: After use stops
Date: 2/25/2007
I use Vaniqa a couple of years ago. It did work, but I thought I noticed more hair after I stopped using it. Did anyone else have this problem?


AskDocWeb: No one has reported this so far.

Subj: Alopecia
Date: 2/12/2007
I only used vaniqua for a month and I started to lose my head hair. It is still falling out now 4 months on and is very depressing. Has anyone else had this happen and has hair grown back?


Subj: Vaniqa acne
Date: 2/21/2007
I heard vaniqa causes acne, does it aggravate acne all over the face or only where it is applied because I intend to use it under chin area and am already having mild acne.


AskDocWeb: Acne is an adverse reaction that only happens to one in five users, and then only where it is applied.

Subj: What about the neck?
Date: 3/12/2007
Can Vaniqa be applied to the neck as well?


AskDocWeb: Yes, according to their website: “For the best results, VANIQA should be used twice a day as part of your morning and evening skin care routine. A little VANIQA goes a long way. As directed by your doctor, massage a thin layer of VANIQA on your chin, upper lip or other areas of your face and neck twice a day, until it’s absorbed into the skin.”

Subj: What happens if I stop?
Date: 4/19/2007
I am interested in trying Vaniqa, but due to the cost, will I need to use it for the next 30+ years??? What are the repercussions if you stop using it?


AskDocWeb: Upon discontinuing Vaniqa, hair growth will approach pretreatment levels within 8 weeks.

Subj: Huge bumps on face
Date: 4/22/2007
Hi, I used a hair removal product on my face called Veet. I thought it was for your face but now I realize it is not and I have these huge bumps all over my cheeks. I bought it in the cosmetic section of Wal-Mart thinking it was for your face. Is this dangerous? Will they go away? (I used it once before on my face with no ill effects.) This is the second time I have ever used it and boy my face looks a mess. Please advise.


AskDocWeb: These bumps are probably welts, a reaction from using it on your face and will fade with time. Oral Benadryl should help but if they don’t go away or you feel a burning sensation see a dermatologist.

Subj: Bone marrow?
Date: 5/6/2007
I heard second hand from a doctor that he would not prescribe this for his patients because of the possible ill effects on bone marrow. Do you know anything about this?


AskDocWeb: There are drugs that can cause bone marrow depression but Vaniqa isn’t one of them.

Subj: Hair on abdomen?
Date: 5/15/2007
I just asked my doctor the prescription and am waiting for a call back. I have mild hairs over my upper lip but have alot of hair on my abdomen from the surgery I had for my c-section birth years ago, where they shaved. Will it help that area as well? The hairs are course and dark black.


AskDocWeb: Vaniqa is a growth inhibitor, that is, it slows or stops the growth of hair but the patient information says that it is for excessive facial hair. Using it on other parts of the body would be an “off label” use. Read more feedback about Vaniqa.

Last post: July 7, 2017

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