New Hope for Dealing With Unwanted Hair

It works by interfering with an enzyme found in the hair follicle of the skin needed for hair growth. This slows hair growth in the treated area. The drug, called Vaniqa (eflornithine hydrochloride), may also help control hair growth in other areas and in men. Vaniqa takes up to two months to work and must be applied regularly to prevent further hair growth.

Of the nondrug treatments, shaving is probably the easiest and safest. Avoiding a stubble, however, requires daily shaving, which can irritate the skin.

Dipilatory creams dissolve hairs chemically and leave no stubble, but they too can irritate the skin. Plucking and waxing are painful. Bleaching makes hair less conspicuous but doesn't remove it. None of these methods removes hair permanently.

The only permanent hair removal technique is electrolysis, in which individual hair follicles are destroyed by electric current delivered through a needle. While permanent and effective, electrolysis is costly, time-consuming, painful and can result in infection and scarring. This treatment must be performed by a qualified electrologist.

Laser hair-removal is a faster and gentler alternative to electrolysis. Results are long-lasting, but not permanent. Patients may experience stinging during treatment and a sunburn sensation for a short period afterwards.

Skin discoloration may also occur, especially in dark-skinned patients. Laser treatments, which heat and destroy hair follicles, are not effective in removing white, gray, or light hair, which does not absorb the laser wavelength as effectively as darker hair does.

Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment option for you.