Using Vicks VapoRub may help relieve cough and congestion.
Vicks VapoRub is a mentholated ointment made by U.S. household and personal care manufacturer Procter & Gamble.
Originally formulated by North Carolina pharmacist Lunsford Richardson to treat his son’s croup, the salve has been around for more than 125 years.
People are still inventing uses for it — some of which are backed by solid science and others that are (so far) unstudied.
Procter & Gamble lists the following active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub:
- camphor (4.7 percent)
- menthol (2.6 percent)
- eucalyptus oil (1.2 percent)
It also contains several inactive ingredients that may be responsible for some of its popular uses:
- cedarleaf oil
- nutmeg oil
- turpentine oil
The salve has a strong menthol scent and a petroleum jelly-like texture.
Doctors, researchers, and the product’s manufacturer have recommended Vicks VapoRub for the following purposes.
Vicks VapoRub isn’t a decongestant. Rather, strong menthol and camphor vapors create a cooling sensation in your nasal passages that trigger receptors in your brain to feel that you’re breathing more openly.
The results of a 2017 study, in which adult cold patients self-reported how they slept, suggest that using VapoRub can improve subjective sleep quality.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol as cough suppressants.
A word of caution, though: Vicks VapoRub isn’t recommended if your cough has lots of phlegm or if it’s chronic, such as with asthma or emphysema.
The manufacturer recommends that you follow these steps to maximize effectiveness for cold symptoms:
- Rub a layer of Vicks VapoRub on your chest and neck only. Don’t use it near your mouth or in your nostrils.
- Drape a warm, dry cloth over your head while you’re sitting upright or standing.
- Loosen any clothing around your chest and throat so vapors can rise to your nose area.
- Repeat, if needed, up to three times in 24 hours.
Not on your nose
Avoid putting Vicks VapoRub on, in, or around your nose. Research from 2014 shows that camphor can be absorbed through your mucous membranes and is toxic, especially to toddlers and babies.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)mandates that no over-the-counter (OTC) product can contain more than 11 percent camphor.
- Never use Vicks VapoRub on children younger than 2 years old.
- Vicks VapoRub can also damage the cornea, so keep it away from the eyes.
Soothing sore muscles
The NIH describes both camphor and menthol as topical analgesics, or pain relievers you rub on your skin.
Products containing camphor and menthol can create a powerful cooling sensation that may temporarily override your ability to feel the pain of sore muscles and joints.
Similar products like Biofreeze, which contains 4 percent active menthol, have helped reduce pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, according to
Treating toenail fungus
All three of the active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub have antifungal properties. After previous studies suggested that OTC mentholated ointments may be effective in treating toenail fungus, a small 2015 study tested the effectiveness of Vicks VapoRub against toenail fungus in people living with HIV.
The results suggested that Vicks VapoRub may be a cost-effective alternative to expensive antifungal medications, especially for those without insurance and who may be socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Not sure about using Vicks VapoRub on toenail fungus? Here are some other remedies to try.
While there’s little or no research to support the following uses of Vicks VapoRub, some people have said they tried it with favorable results.
Fading stretch marks
Stretch marks are purplish, red, or white lines that appear on the skin after a period of quick growth. They most often appear around puberty and pregnancy.
If you want a surefire remedy, you may want to try one of these three treatments:
- needling (injecting collagen under the skin)
- laser therapy
Some people believe the strong scent of Vicks VapoRub can keep pets from urinating on or scratching up furniture in your home.
Dabbing a small amount of the product on the area you want to protect may keep your pet at bay, but make sure your pet can’t lick or chew the ointment off the surface.
Never put Vicks VapoRub directly on your pet’s skin.
Camphor is toxic to animals. It can cause a skin reaction, and in large enough amounts, it can cause seizures and even death.
Healing rough skin on your heels
The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends petroleum jelly as a moisturizer, especially when used on damp skin, because it keeps moisture from evaporating.
That may explain why some people have found Vicks VapoRub helpful for healing rough skin on the feet and heels.
But more research is needed to support the anecdotal claims about its usefulness as a treatment for dry, calloused skin on the feet.
According to a
However, while natural oils may provide some defense, if you really want to keep mosquitoes away, DEET and picaridin are still the most powerful repellents.
Treating acne spots
Beauty bloggers have promoted the use of Vicks VapoRub as an overnight spot treatment to shrink pimples.
Research suggests that several of the ingredients in Vicks VapoRub are effective at healing blemishes, but other ingredients may actually worsen acne.
For example, dermatologists have recommended camphor essential oil as an acne treatment. But another ingredient in Vicks VapoRub — petroleum jelly — may cause breakouts.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends against using products with petroleum jelly on acne-prone skin.
If you want to take advantage of the anti-inflammatory properties of camphor, some beauty bloggers recommend mixing a few drops of camphor essential oil with a carrier oil like jojoba and dabbing it on a blemish.
However, the amount of menthol in the tested products was much higher (6 percent and 10 percent) than the amount of menthol in Vicks VapoRub (2.6 percent).
So far, there aren’t any studies that support the use of Vicks VapoRub for treating headaches.
Health officials and the product’s manufacturer say you shouldn’t use Vicks VapoRub:
- on children under 2 years old
- on open wounds
- under tight bandages
Other safety warnings include the following:
- Store Vicks VapoRub safely out of reach of children.
- Don’t heat Vicks VapoRub before you use it, as it can cause burns.
- Never eat or swallow Vicks VapoRub. The ingredients are toxic when ingested.
- There have been cases when Vicks VapoRub caused the skin under the nose to lighten.
- There have been
rare caseswhen long-term or excessive use of Vicks VapoRub caused a rare form of pneumonia.
- If your cough or muscle soreness lasts longer than a week, talk with a doctor.
Is VapoRub good for pneumonia?
Before using Vicks VapoRub for pneumonia, talk with a doctor. According to the directions on the package, you should talk with a doctor before using Vicks VapoRub for any illness with a cough that occurs with too much mucus.
Depending on the severity of your illness, it may also be unsafe to use topical products containing menthol. These products can trick your brain into thinking you’re breathing more easily than you are. This can lead you to avoid seeking medical care for breathing trouble when you need it.
Is it OK to use Vicks VapoRub with COVID-19?
Products containing menthol are not recommended for people with COVID-19. Menthol can trigger receptors in your brain that make you feel as though you’re breathing more clearly than you are and can lead you to underestimate the severity of your symptoms. This may result in delaying necessary medical treatment.
If you’re experiencing trouble breathing due to a SARS-CoV-2 infection, it’s best to talk with a doctor about treatment options. Do not use off-label medications for treating an infection with the coronavirus.
What does putting Vicks on your feet do?
Some people claim that putting Vicks VapoRub on your feet can help with cold symptoms. However, there isn’t any scientific evidence to support this theory. The manufacturer’s guidelines say to apply the product to your chest.
Menthol and camphor, two of the active ingredients in VapoRub, may help soothe your muscles by acting as a topic anesthetic, according to the NIH. Applying Vicks to your feet may help soothe sore muscles.
Can Vicks hurt your lungs?
Long-term misuse of petroleum-based oils like Vicks VapoRub can cause a rare form of pneumonia called
Though uncommon, ELP has occurred in patients who have used mineral oil or petroleum-based lubricants and decongestants, like petroleum jelly (Vaseline), Vicks VapoRub, and lip gloss, frequently and over a long period of time.
Symptoms of ELP can include:
- difficulty breathing
- chest pain
When applying Vicks VapoRub, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it to your chest or throat. Don’t apply VapoRub to the nose or nostrils or near the mouth.
Does Vicks VapoRub help with breathing?
Vicks VapoRub releases vapors of menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor that can soothe nasal passages. This can trigger receptors in your brain that make you think you are breathing more clearly. But VapoRub isn’t a decongestant.
Studies have shown that using Vicks VapoRub according to the instructions on the package may help improve sleep quality.
Vicks VapoRub has been a medicine cabinet staple for more than 125 years. Although it’s not listed as a decongestant, there’s solid research behind using the product to get relief from a stuffy nose or cough.
There’s also evidence that the camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol in the ointment make it a good choice for relieving muscle and joint pain. And a couple of studies found that it works to stamp out fungal infections in toenails.
Vicks VapoRub is also a popular choice for people trying to fade stretch marks, heal rough skin, treat headaches, and keep outdoor bugs away.
It’s been tried as an acne treatment, but other products may work just as well without risking the irritation some of its ingredients can cause.
Some people have used the strongly scented ointment to keep pets from peeing on or scratching furniture, but be careful using this training method. The ingredients in Vicks VapoRub can be dangerous for animals.
Vicks VapoRub is generally safe for use on older children and adults. Don’t use it on children younger than 2 years old, as it can cause serious health concerns for them.
Vicks rubbed on the chests of children with cold symptoms can improve their quality of sleep. 11 However, there's no evidence that rubbing it on someone's feet will help ensure a good night's rest.Can we use Vicks for headache? ›
Vicks Vaporub is also used for general pain relief with headaches, joint pains and muscle sprains.What are some fun facts about Vicks VapoRub? ›
In 1985, Procter & Gamble acquired the Vicks Chemical Company. Vicks VapoRub contains camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, special petrolatum, thymol, and turpentine oil. People working in a morgue often smear Vicks VapoRub above their upper lip to mask the odor of a decomposing corpse.Can I put Vicks on pimples? ›
According to Manway, Vicks VapoRub “isn't appropriate to be used on the face due to the thick, greasy vehicle that can easily clog pores and promote the cascade of further acne.” So, while using Vicks on a pimple likely isn't dangerous to your health, it could actually backfire and cause more acne.Will Vicks help draw out a boil? ›
Two of its active ingredients – menthol and camphor – are mild analgesics (pain relievers) and are used in anti-itch lotions. VapoRub also helps abscesses to rupture and drain, which provides more pain relief.
Vicks VapoRub is a topical ointment. Although designed for cough suppression, its active ingredients (camphor and eucalyptus oil) may help treat toenail fungus. A 2011 study found that Vicks VapoRub had a “positive clinical effect” in treating toenail fungus.What happens when you put Vicks VapoRub on the bottom of your feet? ›
Using Vicks VapoRub on your feet or other areas of your body has a cooling effect. This is mainly because of the camphor and menthol. The cooling sensation of the vapor rub may be pleasing and temporarily help you feel better.Can Vicks cure toenail fungus? ›
Dr. Ioli, who is chief of the podiatry service at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, suggested that daily applications of Vicks VapoRub might be at least as effective as most of the topical treatments for toenail fungus that are available by prescription or over the counter.Can you put Vicks on your teeth? ›
Vicks Vapor Rub
Not just for coughs and colds, Vicks VaporRub can be very helpful if you have a swollen tooth. Put this rub on the painful area of your tooth and put a cloth or towel over it to keep the heat generated inside.
Your healthcare provider can also advise you on other methods to soothe congestion and body aches. But if you're looking for good ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we would suggest that you put down the Vick's, and reach for the hand soap instead.
Doctors swiftly debunked such claims. "Using Vicks VapoRub on the vagina would not only be uncomfortable, but also has the potential to cause damage and disrupt the natural flora of the vagina," gynecologist Dr. Vanessa Mackay told The Sun.Why is Vicks so relaxing? ›
That Healing Aroma
Some versions of VapoRub and Tiger Balm also contain lavender, which has a smell known for its calming effects. It works by triggering pleasure receptors in the brain. “It's a very calming, soothing scent,” Bhattacharyya says.
Vicks Plant (Plectranthus tomentosa) (also known as Succulent Coleus or Cuban Oregano): A member of the mint family and has somewhat thin (but still succulent!) leaves. It's known for the minty, camphor fragrance of its leaves.What is Vicks made out of? ›
The main ingredients of Vicks VapoRub include camphor 4.8%, eucalyptus oil, menthol 2.6%, thymol, and several other ingredients. Thymol, or 5-methyl-2-(1-methylethyl) phenol, is a phenol derivative that can have antiseptic and preservative properties.Can you put Vicks on your sinuses? ›
Topical camphor absorbed through mucous membranes or broken skin also can be toxic. That's why you should never put VapoRub in or around the nostrils — especially a small child's nostrils.Is Vicks good for your lips? ›
For soft lips
Apply some Vicks VapoRub on your dehydrated and chapped lips to get soft and smooth lips.
VapoRub for Pain
The menthol and camphor in VapoRub work as topical analgesics, which means they can relieve minor aches and pains of the musculoskeletal system through the skin. They've been used that way for hundreds of years, and the benefits are backed by some medical research.
When a boil first appears, the pus-filled space inside the swollen bump (abscess) hasn't yet fully developed. In this phase, doctors usually recommend applying a warm, moist, antiseptic compress (a cloth pad held in place by a bandage) or a special ointment that draws (pulls) pus out of the boil.What ointment pulls pus out of a boil? ›
Over-the-counter antibiotic ointment
Over-the-counter antibiotic cream, like Neosporin, can be effective for treating boils.
Put a warm, wet cloth on your boil for about 20 minutes, three or four times a day. This will help bring the boil to a head. The boil may open on its own with about 1 week of this treatment. If it doesn't, contact a doctor for possible incision and drainage in an office.
Keratin is a protein that promotes the development of the skin and nails. Nail psoriasis sometimes causes too much keratin to grow under the nail. This overgrowth is called subungual hyperkeratosis. People with hyperkeratosis may notice a white, chalky substance under the nail.What kills toenail fungus permanently? ›
Oral antifungal drugs.
These drugs are often the first choice. One option is itraconazole (Sporanox). These drugs help a new nail grow free of infection, slowly replacing the infected part.
Soften your nails first by applying urea cream (Aluvea, Keralac) and wrapping your feet in bandages at night. Then, wash off the urea cream, and use a nail clipper and nail file to trim your nails. Apply an over-the-counter fungal treatment after you gently file your nails. Apply Vicks VapoRub on your toenail each day.How long does it take for Vicks to work on nail fungus? ›
“Applying Vicks VapoRub to fungus-infected toenails can clear up the notoriously hard-to-treat condition. Michigan State University clinicians found that applying the product daily to the infected nail cleared the condition in 32 of 85 patients, though it took anywhere from 5 to 16 months…”How long does it take for Vicks to wear off? ›
What's in Vicks VapoRub? combined into an ointment at levels in which they can deliver soothing, medicated vapors that last for up to 8 hours.Does Vicks vapor rub expire? ›
Vicks VapoRub does eventually expire, according to the company's website, and should not be used past the expiration date stamped on it.Does hydrogen peroxide get rid of toenail fungus? ›
Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that isn't meant for killing toenail fungus. This medication is for treating cuts, burns and scrapes. But according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hydrogen peroxide can kill some types of fungi, such as yeasts and moulds.What is the number one cure for toenail fungus? ›
The best pill for toenail fungus is terbinafine. Evidence suggests it works better than the alternatives with the fewest side effects. Terbinafine results in resolution of toenail fungus 76% of the time.What kills toe fungus the fastest? ›
The fastest way to eliminate the infection is through toenail laser treatment. Laser nail therapy specifically targets the microorganisms under your nail while leaving the keratin intact. In just a few treatments, the infection can be entirely eliminated.Is Vicks Vapor Rub good for arthritis? ›
Relieve sore muscles and arthritis: Rub some Vicks into it! Vicks has some anti-inflammatory properties that are great for achy muscles and arthritic joints. Just rub it in like you would body lotion into the affected spot and let it soak in. Get rid of headaches: Got a bad headache you just can't seem to shake?
Topical application of Vicks Vaporub on chest, neck, forehead and back can be done gently rubbing, two to three times a day. It can also be inhaled as steam. Prepare a bowl of hot water that is not boiling and add one to two teaspoons of Vicks Vaporub.What do dentists rub on your teeth? ›
Fluoride varnish is safe and used by dentists and doctors all over the world to help prevent tooth decay in children. Only a small amount is used, and hardly any fluoride is swallowed. It is quickly applied and hardens. Then it is brushed off after 4 to 12 hours.Can you put Vaseline in your nose for a negative Covid test? ›
Whether they actually tried this or just blathered nonsensically about Vaseline interfering with the test by “having no pH” isn't clear, but it is extremely unlikely that this ruse would work. The test requires very few viral particles, and in any case, these would become embedded in the Vaseline.Can I use Vicks on myself around my dog? ›
Camphor is commonly found in topical pain or arthritis body rubs. Examples of some common trade names containing camphor include Carmex, Tiger Balm, Vicks VapoRub, Campho-Phenique, etc. Camphor is readily absorbed across the skin, and should never be applied to dogs or cats due to risks for poisoning.Does Vicks have side effects? ›
Vicks VapoRub may cause side effects like skin irritation and respiratory distress, but these are rare. Do not use it if you're allergic to any of its ingredients.What is the best lubricant for tight Vigina? ›
Natural-based oil lubricants — like avocado, coconut, vegetable, and olive oils — are great for genital massages and all types of sexual play. They're also safe for the vagina and safe to eat.What can be used as Virgina lubricant? ›
These include aloe vera, yogurt, olive oil, and virgin coconut oil. People should avoid the use of petroleum jelly, lotion, butter, or spit as lubricant alternatives, due to the increased risk of infection or irritation.What is the oil that smells like Vicks? ›
Eucalyptus belongs to the woody fragrance family, which is characterized by rich and aromatic fragrance notes. Its smell comes from the oil in the silvery-blue leaves of eucalyptus trees (which we'll talk about a bit later). Some say it smells like Vicks or Tiger Balm.Is Vicks good for nerves? ›
Vicks Vapor Rub® – Massaging one's feet with Vicks, particularly at night, soothes neuropathic pain and distress in one's feet and legs.What is Vicks VapoRub good for hair growth? ›
Treatments such as Vaporub might be able to alter the appearance of the hair you already have or make the hair appear thicker and help with issues such as dandruff. However, there is no scientific evidence of it stimulating the hair follicles and resulting in new hair growth.
Originally named “Vicks Family Remedies” our most sought after product was Croup & Pneumonia Salve. Later named VapoRub, it was created by Lunsford Richardson out of love and concern for his sick son. Young Smith Richardson had a severe case of croup.Is VapoRub edible? ›
Never eat or swallow Vicks VapoRub. The ingredients are toxic when ingested. There have been cases when Vicks VapoRub caused the skin under the nose to lighten. There have been rare cases when long-term or excessive use of Vicks VapoRub caused a rare form of pneumonia.What did Vicks used to be called? ›
Vicks VapoRub was invented by Lunsford Richardson, Davidson College class of 1875. He first called it Richardson's Magic Croup and Pneumonia Cure Salve, then Vick's Magic Salve, and finally Vicks VapoRub, after his doctor brother-in-law.Can Vicks help with headache? ›
Vicks Vaporub is also used for general pain relief with headaches, joint pains and muscle sprains.Is it safe to inhale Vicks in hot water? ›
For adults and adolescents aged 12 years and over, Vicks vaporub should be rubbed liberally on the chest, throat and back underneath loose clothing to allow the vapour to be inhaled. Alternatively, two teaspoonfuls can be melted in hot (not boiling) water to use as a steam inhalation.How do you use Vicks in the shower? ›
Place one vapor rub melt on your shower floor and allow the hot water to run over it. This will activate the vapors from the Vicks rub to cause a steam in your shower that will help ease a cold or congestion. Check out this FAQ by Vicks on how you can use VapoRub.Where not to put Vicks? ›
Topical camphor absorbed through mucous membranes or broken skin also can be toxic. That's why you should never put VapoRub in or around the nostrils — especially a small child's nostrils. And if VapoRub gets in your eye, it can injure your cornea.Does Vicks VapoRub work for toenail fungus? ›
“Applying Vicks VapoRub to fungus-infected toenails can clear up the notoriously hard-to-treat condition. Michigan State University clinicians found that applying the product daily to the infected nail cleared the condition in 32 of 85 patients, though it took anywhere from 5 to 16 months…”Is breathing in Vicks good for you? ›
Safe Use. While Bhattacharyya says products like VapoRub are generally quite safe when used according to their label, he recommends against inhaling large amounts of VapoRub or any similar product because it can get deep into the sinus cavity and lungs, potentially causing inflammation and allergic reactions.Can you put VapoRub anywhere? ›
Know that Vick's VapoRub is solely for external use only and that it should go no where near your eyes. You should never eat it, put it into your nostrils or apply it to cut skin. If your cough doesn't go away after a couple of weeks, head to see your GP.
It's not safe to use VVR inside or around your nose. If you do, it could be absorbed into your body through the mucus membranes lining your nostrils. VVR contains camphor, which can have toxic effects inside your body. Ingesting camphor is especially dangerous for young children.Does Vicks help with swollen feet? ›
Another ingredient of Vick's VapoRub — eucalyptus oil — contains a natural chemical called 1,8-cineole. This compound gives it antibacterial and antiviral properties. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. This means it may help soothe pain and reduce swelling.Is VapoRub and petroleum jelly the same thing? ›
In addition to being packaged in plastic, your trusty tub of vapor rub includes petroleum (petrolatum aka petroleum jelly) as one of the primary ingredients!How do you treat thick toenails in the elderly? ›
- prescription creams or ointments.
- oral medications.
- laser therapy or light therapy.
- surgery to remove the nail and allow it to regrow.
An all-time favourite home remedial trick, Vicks Vaporub is imbued with eucalyptus oil that has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties; it also has menthol that can clear clogging caused due to mild or chronic inflammation.Can Vicks repel mosquitoes? ›
have to rub it all over, just apply small dabs on your ankles, wrists, neck, inner elbows, knees and behind your ears. The smell of the menthol in it will repel the insects away. You can also rub it on any mosquito bites you may already have and it will relieve the itching.Is it OK to put Vicks on your scalp? ›
Vicks contains petroleum jelly, which is not generally advisable for the scalp, although it shouldn't pose too much of a problem if the scalp is healthy.”