Eflornithine Hydrochloride is effective at preventing hair growth

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Eflornithine Hydrochloride (Vaniqa) for Hirsutism

Among the various treatments, excess and unwanted hair growth disorders in women topical applications are quite popular. Eflornithine Hydrochloride 13.9 percent cream is one such treatment. Popularly known as Eflornithine or Vaniqa (trade name), it is manufactured by Bristol Myers-Squibb/Gillette Co., San Diego, CA. and was first marketed in 2001 for the treatment of excess hair growth problems among women. Thereafter, this medication was recognized by the Food and Drug Administration for the therapy of excess facial hair production.

Eflornithine activity involves the permanent obstruction of L-ornithine decarboxylase; an enzyme that is vital for the production of polyamines, (essential for cell division) and which in turn regulates human hair production and development. The application of eflornithine hydrochloride 13.9 percent cream does not result in the total disappearance of excess hair, it rather acts to slow down hair growth. It also affects the existing hair density and texture and renders them much less noticeable and coarse.


At the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology held in March 10–15, 2000, in San Francisco, California, a team of experts (Schrode K, Huber F, Staszak J, Altman DJ, Shander D, Morton J and others) reported on the findings of two “randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled safety and efficacy evaluation of eflornithine 15 percent cream in the treatment of women with excessive facial hair.”

This placebo-regulated survey was conducted on 594 women and proved the effectiveness of eflornithine hydrochloride 13.9 percent cream in decreasing unwanted and excess facial hair growth. After about 8 weeks of use of the cream, 58 percent of the patients demonstrated great results, while the condition of 32 percent improved.

However, the decrease in hair growth was temporary and almost stopped when the use of the cream was discontinued for an 8-weeks survey span. This proved that sustained application of the eflornithine hydrochloride 13.9 percent is necessary to ensure continued control of hair production.

For noticeable results of the usage of the cream, at least 8 weeks of therapy is necessary and sustained application is must to maintain the effects. However, if no results are noticed after 4 or more months of usage, the therapy should be discontinued immediately. The obvious conclusion here would be that the cream for some reason is not effective.

Moreover, there was no indication that this cream had any effects, either better or worse, on acne. However, since most of these studies were conducted from a dermatological point of view, there were no findings about the underlying ailments associated with excess and unwanted facial hair production in the patients under survey.

Nonetheless, there was a marked improvement in the condition of 60 percent of women with unwanted facial hair with the use of the Eflornithine Vaniqa. Though the Food and Drug Administration recognized the cream for effective treatment of unwanted facial hairs only, there has been no proof that it would not work in other body parts too.

But, experts suggest that more widespread application of the cream other than the face would increase its absorption into the bloodstream and hence increase the risk of adverse effects.

Side effects

Side effects of eflornithine hydrochloride 13.9 percent found in these studies were negligible. They included:

  • Stinging in 8.0 percent of cases
  • Tingling skin in 3.6 percent
  • Rash in 2.8 percent

These side effects were identical to those caused by chemical depilatory products, most of which have a thioglycolates content that breaks chemical bonds and disintegrates the hair shaft.

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