Vicks VapoRub has a long history as a staple in medicine cabinets around the world. It's sold as a cough suppressant and topical analgesic, but people have been using Vicks in unusual and creative ways for more than a century, treating almost every condition under the sun, from bee stings to fevers.
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 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.
Insect Bites and Stings
Perhaps due to its pain relieving properties, Vicks has often been used as a topical treatment for mosquito bites and bee stings. Dab a small amount of Vicks VapoRub onto the irritated area; the irritation should soon subside.
Perhaps the best known, and best documented, use for Vicks is to treat or cure nail fungus. Toenail fungus can be a particularly stubborn condition that is normally treated through expensive medications. According to "The New York Times," multiple studies have found that the ingredients in Vicks are effective against both dermatophytes and candida, the two primary causes of nail fungus.
As a topical analgesic, the use of Vicks VapoRub 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 and affordable option that can help many to experience less discomfort and a greater range of motion.
When out of Preparation H, many people have pulled their trusty Vicks from the medicine cabinet. Applying this topical ointment to the affected area may help reduce discomfort and irritation--or it might make it worse. Some report a cooling sensation, while one individual, quoted by Health Central, referred to the feeling as making him imagine he was "a jet fighter with afterburners."
Individuals suffering from dandruff, chapped lips, cracked heels and a variety of other dermatological problems have found Vicks to soothe discomfort and help skin to heal. This may be due to the fact that Vicks ointment is made up primarily of petroleum jelly, similar to Vaseline. The additional essential oils contained in Vicks VapoRub likely contribute further to the relief. Before using 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.