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What is eflornithine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Eflornithine is the first topical drug (used on the skin) for the treatment of unwanted facial and chin hair. It does not remove the hair but rather slows its growth. The cells surrounding the base of each hair (called the hair follicle) undergo rapid growth and maturation as they transform into hairs. Certain proteins called polyamines are needed for this rapid cell growth and differentiation, and the production of these polyamines depends on the activity of an enzyme, ornithine decarboxylase (ODC). Eflornithine is believed to block ODC, slowing the growth and differentiation of the cells within the hair follicles. Eflornithine was approved by the FDA in July 2000.
What brand names are available for eflornithine?
Is eflornithine available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for eflornithine?
What are the side effects of eflornithine?
The most common side effects seen with eflornithine are:
- swollen patches that are sometimes reddened and contain a buried hair (pseudofolliculitis barbae),
- skin itching,
- dry or tingling skin,
- hair loss, and
- ingrown hairs.
Other important, but less common side effects are:
What is the dosage for eflornithine?
Eflornithine should be applied in a thin layer around the affected facial areas and chin and rubbed-in thoroughly. It is applied twice daily with at least eight hours between applications or as directed by a physician. Eflornithine should not be washed away from the skin for at least eight hours after application. Cosmetics and sunscreens may be applied once the treated area has dried. Hair removal techniques such as tweezing should be continued. The hands should be washed immediately after using eflornithine.
Is eflornithine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
There have been no studies of eflornithine therapy in pregnant women.
It is not known if eflornithine is secreted into breast milk.
What else should I know about eflornithine?
What preparations of eflornithine are available?
Eflornithine is available as a 30 gram tube of cream at a concentration of 13.9%.
How should I keep eflornithine stored?
Eflornithine should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F) and should not be frozen.
Latest Women's Health News
Eflornithine (Vaniqa) is a topical medication prescribed for the treatment of unwanted facial and chin hair in women ages 12 and older. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy information should be reviewed prior to using this medication.
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Related Disease Conditions
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also known by the name Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a hormonal problem that causes women to have a variety of symptoms including irregular or no menstrual periods, acne, obesity, and excess hair growth. Treatment of PCOS depends partially on the woman's stage of life and the symptoms of PCOS.
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular vaginal bleeding, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, weight gain, and emotional symptoms such as mood swings. Treatment of menopausal symptoms varies, and should be discussed with your physician.
Ingrown hairs may be caused by improper shaving, waxing, or blockage of the hair follicle. Symptoms and signs of ingrown hairs include itching, tenderness, and small red pus bumps. Ingrown hairs usually heal on their own, but topical antibiotics, chemical depilatories, and hair-removal laser may be used in the treatment of ingrown hairs.
Treatment & Diagnosis
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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