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The original Vicks VapoRub was invented in the 1890s by Lunsford Richardson in Greensboro, NC. It was marketed as Vicks Croup and Pneumonia Salve. There have been product changes throughout the years and the current Vicks VapoRub product is available in both a cream and ointment. Both are designed to be topical cough treatments for use by people ages 2 and up. They also are intended to treat minor muscle aches and pains. Vicks VapoRub is not believed to cause drowsiness or nervousness. Vicks VapoRub also plays a part in numerous home remedies.


Pamela Follett/Demand Media

The active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub are camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol. The powerful vapors emitted by these ingredients relieve congestion and coughing. Inactive ingredients include cedar leaf oil, special petrolatum, nutmeg oil, turpentine oil and thymol.

Standard Directions

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Rub the cream or ointment onto the chest, throat or aching muscles. Cover the ointment with a warm, loose cloth. Repeat up to three times in 24 hours.

Home Remedies

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Vicks VapoRub is used to cure nail fungus. Rub the infected nail with Vicks VapoRub two to three times a day. After a few days you should see improvement. Continue for at least six months or until a new nail has completely grown in. This will also work on athlete's foot.

Some people suggest the use of Vicks VapoRub for hemorrhoids. It shrinks the hemorrhoid and relieves itching. Clean the area and apply Vicks directly to the hemorrhoid. Side effects may include a burning sensation.

Place some Vicks VapoRub on chapped lips to soothe discomfort and soften the lips. Be careful to not ingest the VapoRub. It is for external use only.

If you have a headache, VapoRub may be the cure. Dab a little Vicks VapoRub on your temples, or forehead, for headache relief. Do not place it near your eyes.

Cure dandruff by rinsing your hair in a mixture of Vicks VapoRub and mineral oil. Let sit and shampoo out.

Place a little VapoRub on bug bites. It will relieve the pain or itch.

Rub Vicks VapoRub on the bottoms of your feet and then put on socks. This should cure nighttime coughing.


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Vicks VapoRub is a topical product. It should never be ingested. If the product is ingested contact the Poison Control Center immediately.

Discuss the use of Vicks VapoRub with your doctor. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use Vicks VapoRub without a prior consultation with their doctor.

Do not apply directly to open wounds or damaged skin. Keep any bandages or coverings loose and allow air to circulate.

Do not apply directly inside nostrils and keep away from eyes. Applying Vicks directly into nostrils may cause the product to be inhaled into the lungs. This could cause a buildup of the petrolatum base and lead to chemical pneumonitis.

Vicks VapoRub should not be heated or microwaved. Doing so may result in burns.

If symptoms of cough, cold, rash or muscle soreness last for more than seven days, seek medical attention.