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Vicks VapoRub is sold as an over-the-counter topical decongestant and cough suppressant. Procter & Gamble came up with this product and introduced it to the market in 1905. (1) More than a century later, it is still the leading fix for a stuffy nose and persistent cough.
But there is more to it than just that. This common household item can be used for a variety of other purposes. This article presents some lesser-known uses of Vicks VapoRub.
Other Uses of Vicks VapoRub
Vicks VapoRub can help address the following concerns:
1. Relieves headaches
The menthol in Vicks VapoRub provides a cooling effect. When applied to the forehead, temples, and back of the neck, Vicks VapoRub seeps in to stimulate certain receptors that produce a deep cooling effect.
This instantly calms your overactive nervous system, which may be triggering your headache. Thus, Vicks VapoRub works as a quick relief for headaches. However, if you get frequent or very severe headaches, it’s best to consult a doctor for the proper diagnosis and treatment. (2)
2. Soothes sore muscles
Vicks VapoRub contains menthol and methyl salicylate, which, when applied to the skin, first cool it down and then warm it up. This drastic fluctuation distracts your mind from the underlying pain in your muscles, joints, or tendons. (3)
You can directly apply Vicks VapoRub over the sore muscle.
3. Fights fungal foot infections
Vicks VapoRub contains thymol and menthol, both of which are credited with significant antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. (4) On this account, it works as a useful remedy for nail fungal infections and athlete’s foot.
Simply apply a tiny amount of Vicks VapoRub to the infected nail or skin now and then throughout the day. As the thymol and menthol kill the fungi, the infected nail will gradually turn dark and be outgrown, and the skin will heal and clear out.
One study found Vicks VapoRub to be a safe, effective, and low-cost alternative treatment for toenail fungus, but more research is needed to confirm this claim. (5)
4. Heals cracked heels
Vicks VapoRub is essentially petroleum jelly mixed with a variety of essential oils that exhibit healing properties. Thus, it is as good as petroleum jelly for healing cracked heels but also has the additional healing properties of various essential oils.
Use Vicks VapoRub to moisturize your feet or just your heels, once in the morning and then before bedtime.
5. Treats minor cuts
Applying this thick lubricant to minor scrapes and cuts will help form a protective layer over the wound to keep out germs and irritants. Plus, it provides deep hydration to the skin.
Moreover, the essential oils in Vicks VapoRub help fight against infection-causing microbes, relieve pain and inflammation, and speed up healing.
However, always remember that Vicks VapoRub contains several potent ingredients that can sting or burn an open wound. So, apply a very small amount first. If you feel pain or a burning sensation, take the product off immediately and stick to Neosporin and a Band-Aid.
6. Fades bruises
Bruises form when some form of physical trauma or injury to the skin damages the underlying blood vessels, which then leak out blood that accumulates in the surrounding tissue. This pooling of blood under the skin is known as bruising, and it appears like a purplish-bluish mark on the surface of the skin.
Vicks VapoRub, when applied on the bruise, first cools the area but then heats it up. The cool sensation shrinks the underlying arteries, reducing blood flow to the area and thereby limiting bruising.
The sudden warming effect that follows stimulates blood flow in the affected area and melts the coagulated blood. This helps relieve inflammation and swelling in the bruised area and makes the bruise fade faster.
It’s best to use this remedy the minute you sense bruising, even if it hasn’t become visible yet. Doing so will minimize the pooling of blood from the start so that the bruise remains small and easily treatable.
7. Clears acne
Vicks VapoRub is great for spot treatment of your occasional zits and pimples. It dries up and shrinks the pimple quickly, sometimes overnight. For full-blown breakouts, consult your dermatologist first before using Vicks VapoRub to rule out any adverse reactions.
8. Prevents and cures insect bites
The strong fumes of Vicks VapoRub repel bugs and mosquitoes away from the skin. Even if you do get bitten or stung, applying this vapor rub to the affected area can help relieve the inflammation, swelling, pain, and itching that comes afterward.
Plus, the deep cooling effect of menthol temporarily numbs the skin to make you feel less itch and pain. (6)
9. Can be used to train pets
The strong smell of Vicks repels pets, and you can use this to your advantage in training them. For instance, if your pet habitually scratches the couch, you can leave a little bit of Vicks on/near the sofa to keep the pets away.
Similarly, if your pet urinates or defecates at certain spots around the house, putting some Vicks on these spots will repel them so you can potty train them.
Warnings and Cautions
Vicks VapoRub is for external use only – it can be toxic and poisonous if ingested. Plus, it gives off strong sulfuric fumes that can irritate your eyes. So, don’t apply it too close to the eyes.
Also, don’t apply Vicks and then cover it up with a tight bandage. Always read the warning label before using.
Before trying the above-mentioned remedies, consult your doctor if:
- You are experiencing severe or persistent muscle aches and pains for more than a week or if they keep coming back.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Disclaimer: Vicks VapoRub is not safe for children below the age of 2 years. Store it in a place where it is out of their reach. If your child accidentally ingests it, seek prompt medical help or immediately call a Poison Control Center.
Camphor is one of the main ingredients of Vicks VapoRub at 4.8% concentration.
Concentrations of camphor ranging from 0.1 to 11% are deemed safe for short-term topical use on intact skin. However, camphor is likely unsafe when used in higher concentrations topically on broken or injured skin, as it can result in systemic absorption and toxicity.
Vick’s VapoRub is found in every household and is mainly used for relieving sniffles and coughs. Now you know that this simple and affordable product can benefit you in so many other ways.