treatment icon

Vicks VapoRub

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Vicks VapoRub, an over-the-counter medication renowned for its ability to alleviate cold symptoms, offers symptomatic relief through its topical application. This comprehensive article aims to elucidate the treatment benefits, appropriate usage instructions, mechanism of action, contraindications, and potential side effects associated with Vicks VapoRub.

Benefits of Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub, available as an ointment, is specifically formulated to alleviate the symptoms associated with colds. By gently massaging the ointment onto the chest, throat, and back before bedtime, the therapeutic vapors emitted throughout the night provide relief from nasal catarrh, sore throat, congestion, and cough. The medication works to ease discomfort and promote a restful sleep.

How do I use it?

Vicks VapoRub is suitable for individuals aged two and above. However, it is important to note that vapor inhalation should only be practiced by individuals aged twelve and older. When topically applying the medication, ensure a gentle massage onto the chest, throat, and back, while also wearing loose-fitting nightwear to facilitate easy inhalation of the vapors during sleep.

For those opting for inhalation, simply melt two teaspoons of the ointment in a bowl of hot water (without boiling) and inhale the resulting vapors for ten to fifteen minutes. This method allows the therapeutic components to reach the nasal passages and provide the desired relief.

How does it work?

Vicks VapoRub contains four active ingredients: levomenthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil and turpentine oil. It is thought to work by providing a cooling sensation in your nasal passages when you inhale the vapors. This stimulates receptors in your brain and tricks your brain into thinking that your nose is not blocked and you are breathing easily, helping to relieve your symptoms.

Who should not use Vicks VapoRub?

As with any medication, Vicks VapoRub is not suitable for everyone. Individuals with known allergies to any of its ingredients should avoid using the product. Children under the age of 2 should refrain from using Vicks VapoRub for any purpose, and children under 12 should avoid inhalation with hot water. There is, however, Vicks BabyRub available for use in children over 3 months.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have asthma, it is crucial to consult your doctor or pharmacist before using Vicks VapoRub. Additionally, if you are taking any medications, including herbal or over-the-counter medications, it is advisable to seek guidance from your pharmacist prior to using Vicks VapoRub.

Are there any side effects?

In general, Vicks VapoRub rarely causes side effects. However, in some cases, mild skin redness or irritation may occur upon topical application. Eye irritation can occasionally arise when using the medication for inhalation with hot water. If any adverse reactions or discomfort persist, it is recommended to discontinue use and consult your local healthcare professional for further guidance.

Was this helpful?

Was this helpful?

This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
App Store
Google Play
Piff tick
Version 2.26.5
© 2024 Healthwords Ltd. All Rights Reserved