A Word of Warning

As is common with home remedies, their uses are often contrary to the recommended uses approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These remedies have rarely been tested in a clinical setting, are based on anecdotal evidence and are not accurate or reliable. As with any health decision, readers should be aware that there are risks involved and consult with a doctor before using any of these methods.

Vicks Vapor Rub Home Remedies

First sold as Vicks Croup and Pneumonia Salve in the 1890s, Vicks Vapor Rub has a long history of use in homes around the world. Sold as a cough suppressant and topical analgesic, people have been usingVicks in unusual and creative ways for more than a century. From bee stings to fevers, it seems that people have tried Vicks as a treatment for every condition under the sun.

A Brief History of Vicks Vapor Rub

This product dates back more than a century, but there is, surprisingly, some disagreement about its exact origins. Pharmacist Lunsford Richardson moved his family from Selma to Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1890. His three young children caught nasty colds that winter, and the usual treatments of the time, poultices and a vaporizing lamp, were messy and inconvenient. As family legend has it, Richardson had traveled in France and observed the use of menthol, an exotic ingredient from Japan. He set to work and developed a croup and pneumonia salve containing menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil, cedar leaf oil, nutmeg oil, thymol and turpentine oil. Richardson named his new creation for his brother-in-law, Dr. Joshua Vick. Not only was Dr. Vick well known and respected in town, he also had a name short enough to fit on labels pasted on the lids of the blue jars.


What really made Vicks successful was the horrible flu season of 1918. This was the worst epidemic America had ever seen. Forty million people died around the world; half a million succumbed in the United States alone. People were so terrorized by this unusually virulent infection that they were eager to try any remedy that might help with congestion. Sales of Vicks Vapor Rub soared from $900,000 to almost $3 million in that one year. Back in those days, that was a lot of money!


There are two approved uses for Vicks: first, it can be rubbed on chest and throat to relieve coughs and nasal congestion; and second, it can be applied to sore muscles to relieve minor aches and pains. The camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol are recognized as effective for cough suppression and decongestion, but the other essential oils found in Vicks are considered “inactive” ingredients. It is suspected that the cedar leaf oil, nutmeg oil, thymol and turpentine oil may play

some role in a few of the unusual purposes people have found for this medicine-chest staple.


·  Decongest Your Chest

The most common use of Vicks is to decongest your chest and throat area. When applied to the upper chest, it provides excellent relief of cough and congestion symptoms.


·  Hacking Cough

Applying Vicks to your feet provides relief. Generously rub Vapor Rub all over your feet and cover them with socks. Within moments your cough will subside.


·  Achy Muscles

Vicks relieves sore, overworked muscles. It increases circulation and provides almost instant aid. Use a generous portion and apply it all over the aching area.


·  Get Rid of Nasty Nail Fungus

Rub Vapor Rub on your toenails
if you suspect you have a fungus. Within days, the nail will turn dark—this means the Vicks is killing the fungus. As your toenail grows out, the dark part will grow off and you will have fungus-free feet. Keep applying the ointment over a period of two weeks to fully cleanse nail beds of any remaining bacteria. If the toenail fungus is severe and very deeply involved into the nail, the nail may become “loose” and painful, so use discretion on use on severe cases of fungus.


·  Stop Your Cat from Scratching

Cats are notorious for scratching every hard surface they get their claws on. To prevent the family cat from ruining your doors, walls, and windows, apply a small amount of Vapor Rub to these areas. Cats detest the smell and will steer clear. Vicks can also be applied to your arms and legs if your kitty is prone to scratching you.


·  Pet Pee-Pee Deterrent

If your dog or cat is not yet potty trained, put an open bottle of Vicks on the area he or she likes to mark as their territory. The smell will discourage them from lifting their legs and wetting your rug.


·  Headaches

Rub a small amount of Vicks Vapor Rub on your temples and forehead to help relieve
headaches. The mentholated scent will release pressure in your head and instantly relieve pain.


·  Humidify Your Sleep

Vicks Vapor Rub can be used in special types of humidifiers and vaporizers. Ensure your humidifier has an aromatherapy compartment before using. The humidifier will circulate Vicks throughout the air and keep you breathing easy all night long.


·  Paper Cuts and Splinters

To prevent infection and speed up healing time, dab a small amount of Vicks on any small cut or splinter. Do not apply into or on open wounds, Vicks is intended for external use only!


·  Ticks and Bugs

If you get bitten by a tick, apply Vicks immediately. The strong odor might help get the critter to release itself and stop bugging you.


·  Reek-free Racehorses

Professional racers smother Vapor Rub under the nostrils of racehorses on race day. The strong stench deters the stallions from the alluring odor of the female pony and keeps them focused on the race.


·  Go Away Mosquitoes

Vicks wards off mosquitoes. Apply small dabs of Vicks Vapor Rub to your skin and clothes and mosquitoes will steer clear. If you do get bitten, apply Vicks to the area and cover it with a Band-Aid to relieve itching. Do not apply bandage tightly over the vapor rub.

·       Heal Cracked Heels

 Before going to bed, apply a thick layer of Vapor Rub into the balls of your feet and heels. Massage into calluses and dry patches. Then, cover your feet with soft, cotton socks. In the morning, wash your feet in warm water. Gently exfoliate softened skin with a pumice stone. Continue each night to maintain smooth, healthy heels.

·       Dissolve Bruises 


Spread a thin layer of Vicks Vapor Rub and salt over a fresh bruise. The ingredients work to quickly dissolve the blue and black coloring by encouraging faster break-down of the blood in the bruise.


·       Stage Tears


If you need to cry on cue for a stage performance or photo shoot, dab a small amount of Vapor Rub just below your eyes. The vapors will cause your eyes to water. Be careful not to get any of the ointment in your eyes. Do not put the Vapor Rub on your eyelids, or it might leak into your eyes.

·       Restless Leg Syndrome    

WiSmear a line of Vicks down the back of the effected leg just before going to bed. The ingredients will sooth the muscles and lessen or prevent the uncomfortable legs tremors.


  •          Skin Ointment


 Individuals suffering from dandruff, chapped lips, cracked heels and a variety of other dermatological problems have found Vicks to soothediscomfortand help skin to heal. This may be due tothe fact that Vicks ointment is made up primarily ofpetroleum jelly, similar toVaseline. The additional essential oils contained in Vicks Vapor Rub likely contributefurther to the relief. Beforeusing this remedy, however, remember that some individuals may have an allergic reaction, even to topical use. A minor reaction,when paired with an existing skin condition,could make a minor problem much worse. Use with caution!

  • Vicks and Milk

Diluting 1 tsp. of Vick's into a glass of warm milk is an old home remedy for several ailments. Downing this concoction was believed to cure coughs, fevers and sore throats. Simply heat milk and stir in a spoonful of Vicks until it has diluted completely. Before taking, however, it should be remembered that the makers of Vicks advise that it be used externally only and never be ingested.

·       Arthritis Pain


As a topical analgesic, the use of Vicks Vapor Rub for sore muscles and joints is common. This pain relief has been found by many people to be especially helpful in alleviating joint pain caused by arthritis. While not a cure for arthritis itself, the pain relief offered by Vicks is a simple andaffordable option that can help many to experience less discomfort and a greater range of motion.

·       Odor Elimination

As a side note to all of the above uses: I would like to add one that I personally used years ago as a paramedic. When I had to go into places that had a very unpleasant odor to it, such as decaying or burnt flesh (and if we had time to do so) we would smear a little Vicks under our nose and then put a surgical mask over our face. This would cover the most foul of smells!

I will try to change the remedies up from time to time and have a way to catalog old subjects/remedies.