10 Health Hacks Using Vicks Vaporub

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Young woman applying face cream at home

    You may have used Vicks VapoRub to loosen chest congestion and clear a stuffy nose, but did you know it’s a common home remedy that can be used for a huge range of health issues? The familiar blue jar of Vicks VapoRub has been around since 1894 when it was first called Vick’s Magic Croup Salve. The magic is a potent combination of menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil, and several other oils. This concoction is carefully blended in a base of petroleum jelly that’s easy to apply and can be used for nearly any ailment. Get ready to be surprised.

  • 1
    Get rid of toenail fungus.
    Woman massaging foot

    Vicks VapoRub is so well-known for its fungus-fighting powers that it’s recommended for toenail fungus removal by Dr. James Ioli, chief of the podiatry service at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. A daily application of Vicks VapoRub on your feet can kill the fungus that affects your toenails and causes athlete’s foot. It’s also safer than many toenail fungus medications. It could take a year of daily use for it to work, but at 6 cents a day, it’s an affordable effective remedy.

  • 2
    Soften feet.
    Woman taking off high heels and rubbing feet on side of bed

    You don’t have to have a fungus to get the benefits of using Vicks VapoRub on your feet. Petroleum jelly is a primary ingredient that locks in moisture and softens skin. The essential oils also soothe your feet and kill any bacteria that’s been making them itchy. It’s best to apply it after a nighttime shower or bath. Massage the Vicks VapoRub into your feet, slip on some cozy socks, and let it work its magic while you sleep.

  • 3
    Banish blemishes.
    Young Hispanic woman popping pimple on face in mirror

    If you have persistent acne or the occasional pimple, Vicks VapoRub is an easy and cost-effective way to get relief. The camphor and essential oils help reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, and dry up oily skin. Just be sure to only use a small amount, because the petroleum jelly could clog pores. Also, the smell of Vicks VapoRub is quite strong, so you may only want to use this acne treatment at night.

  • 4
    Stop bug bites.
    Young girl with bug bite on left arm

    Vicks VapoRub is made with several essential oils, including cedar oil, which bugs hate. Another key ingredient is camphor which is derived from the Cinnamomum camphora tree and has been used for centuries in incense and medicine. All of this adds up to a fragrant barrier that repels mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other bugs when you rub it on your skin. As a bonus, Vicks VapoRub can also reduce inflammation if a bug does bite you.

  • 5
    Prevent stretch marks.
    Close-up of young Caucasian girl's leg with stretch marks

    Eucalyptus is an active ingredient in Vicks VapoRub and its anti-inflammatory properties are said to miraculously erase stretch marks and even wrinkles. Some women claim that using Vicks made their stretch marks 60 to 100% less visible in one week. At the very least, rubbing Vicks on your body may tighten and soften your skin, so stretch marks are less noticeable. If you try using it for wrinkles, be careful applying Vicks to your face. The menthol can irritate your eyes and mucous membranes.

  • 6
    Make bruises disappear.
    older woman with arm bruise

    Got a nasty bruise? Try rubbing on Vicks VapoRub to help it fade faster. This works best if you can massage it in shortly after the bruise shows up. The menthol and camphor help reduce inflammation and restrict the blood flow that causes bruising. The cooling sensation of menthol also calms the skin and eases pain. This home remedy works best on minor bruises and is definitely worth a try.

  • 7
    Ease a headache.

    This health hack for Vicks VapoRub is mentioned on their website, but it’s one not many people know about. You can use it to reduce headache pressure and pain from migraines and tension headaches. The menthol is the key ingredient that provides a cooling sensation that mimics using an ice pack to relieve pain. The scent may also trigger relaxation. You can massage Vicks VapoRub wherever you feel headache pain, just be careful to avoid contact with your eyes.

  • 8
    Soothe scrapes and cuts.
    Mother applying first aid to daughter with scraped knee

    There are so many Vicks VapoRub uses that you should add a jar to your first aid kit. It works wonders as an antiseptic for treating cuts, scrapes and burns. Apply a small dab on your wound to create a barrier that protects the injured area. The eucalyptus and menthol help fight inflammation which reduces pain. Keep in mind that Vicks can be a little strong, so if you experience any burning sensations, wash the area and switch to a milder topical antiseptic.

  • 9
    Relieve joint pain.

    Vicks VapoRub is said to provide relief when your joints ache from overuse, injury or arthritis. The camphor does the hard work here as an analgesic that soothes nerve endings and relieves joint pain. You simply massage it directly into the skin around the joints that are causing discomfort. This is an affordable remedy that works best for occasional, mild pain. If your joint pain persists or is extremely painful, talk with your doctor about other treatments.

  • 10
    Cool a sunburn.
    Sunburned back after shower

    Suffering through a painful sunburn puts a damper on summer fun. Fortunately, Vicks VapoRub can be used for that too. Aloe vera used to be the go-to for burn relief, but Vicks will also do the trick. Massage it into your reddest areas for cooling pain relief and reduced inflammation. You can even blend it with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, so it goes on more smoothly for all-day cooling effects.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 May 17
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Home remedies that may be worth a try. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/home-remedies-that-may-be-worth-a-try-2017032211444
  2. Home Remedies Backed By Science with Dr. Elizabeth Kightlinger. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/podcasts/health-essentials/home-remedies-backed-by-science-with-dr-elizabeth-kightlinger
  3. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/expert-answers/nasal-decongestant/faq-20058569
  4. Lunsford Richardson, Inventor of VapoRub and Junk Mail. NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. https://www.ncdcr.gov/blog/2014/12/30/lunsford-richardson-inventor-of-vaporub-and-junk-mail