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.See AlsoDer Juche-Kalender - Nordkorea-InformationBest Online Slots: Top Real Money Slot Sites With High Payouts ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims (Published 2019)15+ of The Best Places to Find Housing in Germany as a Foreigner - Life in Germany
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.
Is Vicks good for joint pain? ›
A timeless treatment for coughs and congestion, Vicks VapoRub can also ease soreness in joints and muscles, thanks to its analgesic combo of menthol and camphor. Massage the cream all over your knee, cover with a dry towel, and rest it until the pain subsides.What does rubbing Vicks VapoRub on your feet do? ›
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. But it doesn't actually reduce body temperature or fevers.Can Vicks VapoRub be used as a drug? ›
While addiction cannot occur from using Vicks VapoRub, sniffing, ingesting it, and even putting it in your nose may produce other adverse side effects. It's important to remember that although OTC drugs are available without prescriptions, they can become harmful if used improperly.Why should I put Vicks on my feet at night? ›
There's no scientific proof that putting Vicks VapoRub on your feet at night will help ease a cough. However, some people use Vicks on their feet to treat foot fungus, relieve foot pain, and smooth cracked heels.Where do you put Vicks for headaches? ›
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.Is Vicks good for nerve pain? ›
Vicks Vapor Rub® – Massaging one's feet with Vicks, particularly at night, soothes neuropathic pain and distress in one's feet and legs.Does VapoRub work on 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.Why does putting Vicks on your feet stop coughing? ›
Narisety, M.D., a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Rutgers University. "It doesn't actually open up airways or break up mucous, but the menthol does trick your brain into thinking your airways are opening up and you're not so congested."Where do you put Vicks on a blocked nose? ›
Where to put Vicks VapoRub for a stuffy nose. If you have a stuffy nose, using VVR may make you feel as though you can breathe better. However, it does not relieve nasal congestion. You can apply VVR to the chest and throat area in a thick layer.How do you use Vicks VapoRub for hair growth? ›
Ways Beauty Vloggers Have Used Vicks For Hair Growth
Method 1 – Massage Vicks directly onto your scalp. Leave it on for 15 minutes and wash with a shampoo. Method 2 – Mix Vicks with black seed oil and massage onto the scalp. Leave it in for 15 minutes before washing your hair and scalp.
What does Vicks and salt do? ›
Break down a bruise
Mixing your Vicks with salt and putting it onto a fresh bruise will help to break down the blood in the bruise, meaning it should go down far quicker than usual.
Bloggers recommend placing a dab of Vicks on a cotton swab and inserting it into the ear. This isn't a good idea. Cotton swabs can shred, leaving fibers and ointment residue behind without you knowing it. These fibers can accumulate bacteria, causing an infection and potentially damaging the middle or inner ear.How do you use Vicks VapoRub 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.Is Vicks good for itchy skin? ›
Other TRP channels respond to menthol and camphor, key ingredients in Vicks VapoRub (Neuropeptides, February 2010). This probably helps explain why Vicks eases the itch.Does Vicks help with cracked heels? ›
Amazingly, in a couple of applications, deep and painful cracks healed. The only drawback: The cracks return if I stop. Vicks VapoRub contains many essential oils in a base of petroleum jelly. If plain petrolatum (such as Vaseline) doesn't help your cracked heels, the essential oils might be playing a role.Does Vicks expire? ›
Yes, every jar of Vicks VapoRub expires. The expiration date can be found on the product label. Should there be an issue finding the expiration date on your jar, contact us here and our team can help you locate the product expiration date.Can Vicks help leg pain? ›
The menthol and camphor in VapoRub act 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.Is Vicks good for inflammation? ›
The menthol and camphor help reduce inflammation and restrict the blood flow that causes bruising. The cooling sensation of menthol also calms the skin and eases pain. This home remedy works best on minor bruises and is definitely worth a try.What helps nerve pain in legs? ›
Speaking of heat, heat and ice packs will often relieve some kinds of nerve pain in the legs. If the pain is new or may be caused by an injury, try ice first. For chronic nerve pain in the legs, or to relieve diabetic nerve pain in the legs, heat can help blood flow and bring comfort quickly.What helps thick toenails in elderly? ›
- Clean the affected area with soap and water daily.
- Groom your nails regularly. ...
- Apply an over-the-counter fungal treatment after you gently file your nails.
- Apply Vicks VapoRub on your toenail each day. ...
- Apply tea tree oil twice a day every day.
What kills toenail fungus fast? ›
- Oral antifungal drugs. These drugs are often the first choice. ...
- Medicated nail polish. Your health care provider may prescribe an antifungal nail polish called ciclopirox (Penlac). ...
- Medicated nail cream.
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. When this occurs in the toenails, the pressure of shoes pushing down on the nails might cause pain.Does Vicks open up airways? ›
Vicks VapoRub — a topical ointment made of ingredients including camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol that you rub on your throat and chest — doesn't relieve nasal congestion. But the strong menthol odor of VapoRub may trick your brain, so you feel like you're breathing through an unclogged nose.What helps a cough at night? ›
- Suck on a cough drop. Before you go to sleep, suck on a cough drop or hard candy to ease a dry cough (one that doesn't produce mucus) and soothe your throat, advises the Mayo Clinic.
- Drink fluids. ...
- Have some honey. ...
- Try cough medicine.
- Gargle with warm salt water. ...
- Humidify the air. ...
- Stay hydrated. ...
- Elevate your head. ...
- Avoid decongestants. ...
- Avoid irritants, fragrances, chemicals, and pollution. ...
- If you smoke, try to stop.
- Heat water in a clean pot on your stove, just enough so that steam is created — DON'T let it reach a boil.
- Place your face about 8 to 12 inches above the steam for about 5 minutes at a time. ...
- Blow your nose afterward to get rid of mucus.
- Repeat the process 2 or 3 times a day if you still have symptoms.
- Avoid common irritants. Cold sufferers should avoid irritants such as smoke and strong perfumes.
- Drink water. Staying hydrated while treating a cold can help keep mucus thin and drain.
- Take a decongestant. ...
- Take a hot hot shower. ...
- Use a humidifier. ...
- Relax with a warm compress.
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.Is Vicks good for thinning hair? ›
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.Does Vicks help with stretch marks? ›
"There is no evidence that Vicks VapoRub helps to improve or prevent stretch marks," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Where can I rub Vicks? ›
Vicks VapoRub medicated vapors begin to work fast to relieve your cough. Use on chest and throat; temporarily relieves cough due to common cold. Also great for use as a topical analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains in your muscles and joints.What can I rub for joint pain? ›
- Tiger Balm. ...
- Bengay Pain Relieving Cream. ...
- Icy Hot Vanishing Gel. ...
- Aspercreme Odor-Free Topical Analgesic Cream. ...
- Capzasin-HP Arthritis Cream. ...
- Sportscreme Deep Penetrating Pain Relieving Rub.
Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help relieve occasional pain triggered by activity your muscles and joints aren't used to — such as gardening after a winter indoors.What eliminates joint pain? ›
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and stiffness. Studies show that those who ate omega-3 rich foods or took a fish oil supplement had a reduction in joint pain. If you're not a fan of fish, try plant-based sources of Omega-3 foods such as ground flax, flaxseed oil and walnuts.Does VapoRub work for inflammation? ›
7. Improve skin conditions. If you suffer from eczema, Vicks VapoRub can help to soothe inflamed areas of skin, thanks to its antimicrobial ingredients like menthol.Does WD 40 help arthritis? ›
Patients who suffer from arthritis are trying anything to relieve those stiff and aching joints. Some have even tried spraying sore joints with WD-40 as they would to fix a squeaky, door hinge. But this folk remedy is not proven to work and may even be harmful.What is the best vitamin for stiff joints? ›
Several nutritional supplements have shown promise for relieving pain, stiffness and other arthritis symptoms. Glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, SAM-e and curcumin are just some of the natural products researchers have studied for osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).What is the number one medication for arthritis? ›
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
NSAIDs are the most effective oral medicines for OA. They include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) naproxen (Aleve) and diclofenac (Voltaren, others). All work by blocking enzymes that cause pain and swelling.
Tylenol arthritis or regular Tylenol at 650 mg or more provides an adequate analgesic effect. The total dose should not exceed 4 g [with in a 24-hour period], as long as there is no contraindication for Tylenol use.”Which milk is good for arthritis? ›
Milk protects joints and bones. You might drink milk to strengthen your bones, but it could also do your joints some good. A study reported in the June issue of Arthritis Care & Research found that women who drank low-fat or skim milk experienced a slower progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Where do you put Vicks on feet? ›
Vicks on the Soles of Your Feet Is Better Than Diamonds on the Soles of Your Shoes. Smearing Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet offers remarkable relief for a nighttime cough. We even think we know why it works!Is Vicks good for sinus? ›
Answer Section. Vicks VapoRub — a topical ointment made of ingredients including camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol that you rub on your throat and chest — doesn't relieve nasal congestion. But the strong menthol odor of VapoRub may trick your brain, so you feel like you're breathing through an unclogged nose.Is VapoRub good for skin? ›
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.