Things to Do With Vicks VapoRub

Updated April 08, 2017

Vicks VapoRub first appeared in the early 1920s and has since become an international brand with dozens of related products. Vicks VapoRub is sold primarily as a decongestant for nighttime relief, but it is also promoted as a pain reliever. Other uses of the ointment are considered home remedies and are not promoted by the company.


Vicks VapoRub is predominantly promoted for use as a decongestant. The cream or jelly is rubbed onto the chest and neck or under the nose. As it evaporates due to body heat, it helps to clear the nasal passages and soothe the throat. The active ingredients for relief include camphor, which acts as an instant topical coolant, and eucalyptus oil, which helps open the nasal passageways and hydrate the sinus area and throat. Vicks rubbed into the chest offers temporary relief for those suffering from cold, flu, sinus pressure, cough, sinus infections, sore throats and ear aches.

Aches and Pains

Vicks VapoRub can be used for temporary relief of aching joints and muscle pains. The cream contains menthol, an anesthetic that acts quickly and locally to relieve pain associated with minor injuries and overuse. Vicks officially promotes their VapoRub products as temporary relief solutions for aches and pains. The cream can be rubbed into skin over the pained area up to three times per 24-hour span.

Nail Bacteria

Vicks VapoRub has been suggested by consumers and some doctors as a possible aide to healing nail fungus. Vicks contains an antiseptic known as thymol that is a possible combatant against bacterial and, in some cases, a fungal nail infection. Concentrated thymol is often used in nail salons to treat nail bacteria. Vicks VapoRub can be used as a home remedy by massaging it into the infected nail to fight the bacteria. Although the product contains thymol, the makers of Vicks VapoRub do not promote it as an anti-fungal cure and notes that tests have not been done to prove the connection and effectiveness of the drug on treating infection.

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About the Author

Mallory Ferland has been writing professionally since her start in 2009 as an editorial assistant for Idaho-based Premier Publishing. Her writing and photography have appeared in "Idaho Cuisine" magazine, "Spokane Sizzle" and various online publications. She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and French language and now writes, photographs and teaches English in Sao Paulo, Brazil.