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Vicks VapoRub has been a product you could purchase since 1890. This mentholated ointment was sold off to Procter & Gamble after Lumsford Richardson managed to concoct it as a treatment for the croup that his son suffered from. Ever since that time, people have come up with a multitude of uses for Vicks VapoRub. Here are a few that may surprise you!

Vicks VapoRub
Vicks is a commonly used decongestant, but it has additional uses as well.
Image: ajay_suresh, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Decongestant

The camphor and menthol found within Vicks VapoRub means that it is quite useful to clearing out the nasal passages. Clear nasal passages are an essential component to breathing that feels open and free, unobstructed by mucous and the like. A study from 2017 involving patients suffering from a cold mentioned that using Vicks VapoRub greatly improved the quality of their sleeping.

Congested child
Congestion woes be gone with a little dab of Vicks VapoRub.

Silencing a Cough

The list of ingredients for a container of Vicks VapoRub includes camphor oil, eucalyptus oil and menthol. Each of these substances has known and successful uses toward treating the medicinal issue of suppressing a cough. That having been said, be mindful that you should not use this substance if your cough is grossly phlegmatic or is the result of a chronic condition. For ideal cough suppression, rub some Vicks VapoRub on the chest and neck, place a warm, dry cloth over the head while positioning yourself in an upright or standing pose. Finally, loosen anything worn around the chest and throat so that the vapors can rise up into the nasal cavity without obstruction.

Vicks VapoRub ad
Vicks VapoRub has been used to treat congestion and coughs since 1890. Image: Vick Chemical Company, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Massaging Your Muscles

Both the camphor oil and menthol found within a topical substance like Vicks VapoRub are potable analgesics. Since an analgesic is a fancy medical term for “pain reliever,” these specific substances can greatly cool the pain that may radiate from sore joints and muscles. Simply rub the Vicks VapoRub into the parts of your skin that are really giving you grief and the petroleum jelly component will ensure that the camphor and menthol can linger around those parts long enough to do their job.

use Vicks VapoRub on sore muscles
Use Vicks VapoRub on sore muscles to relieve the pain.

As a Fungicidal Treatment

This is probably one of the more intriguingly useful uses of Vicks VapoRub, but this one substance contains three active ingredients that are all known to possess antifungal qualities. Several studies have been conducted involving the use of mentholated ointments in combating toenail fungus and there is evidence that Vicks VapoRub successfuly fought off fungal infections within the toes of HIV patients. Considering how costly certain antifungal medications can become, especially for the uninsured, you may want to look into slathering some Vicks VapoRub over your toes.

parent and baby toes
If you encounter toe fungus, try some Vicks VapoRub to alleviate the issue.

Dealing With Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are “bruises” of purple, red and white lines that show up on the body in areas where the skin has undergone a rapid amount of growth, such as the growth spurts of puberty or the abdominal swelling of a pregnancy. Many people have found stretch marks to be aesthetically undesirable and have looked into any sort of cheap method of dealing with them. Some people have reported a degree of success in getting their stretch marks to fade away, and thus become less visible, with regular daily uses of Vicks VapoRub that are smeared over the offending marks.

stretch marks
Many women experience stretch marks as a result of pregnancy, but men can have stretch marks too. Using Vicks VapoRub can help to make these marks fade.

Training Your Pets

For some pet owners, Vicks VapoRub can have some surprising uses in the field of behavior training. Anyone whom has ever opened up the container will note that Vicks VapoRub has a strong smell to it and it is this strong smell that helps deter pets. To use this substance in order to train your pets, simply dab a little bit of product onto the spots you want to keep your pet away from, whether you simply want them to stay off the surface, prevent from clawing or gnawing upon or you want to train away from marking certain spots with their urine. Note that you should never place Vicks VapoRub directly on the skin of your pets as the camphor is toxic; sufficient quantities of camphor can lead to a reaction on the skin that can even lead to seizure or death. Lastly, never pick a surface that your pet is known to lick at as this substance is not really something that a pet should bring into its body.

puppy and kitten
Dab a touch of Vicks VapoRub on spots where you don't want pets to play or use the restroom.

Healing Rough, Craggy Feet

Dermatologists have long recommended the use of petroleum jelly as a means of moisturizing the skin, especially in cases where skin is damp. Part of this recommendation comes because the fact that petroleum jelly helps trap moisture, preventing it from evaporating away. The petroleum jelly found within Vicks VapoRub has long been purported to offer ease and a greater degree of moisture retention to the soles of dry, calloused feet. All you need to do to keep your feet nice and moist is to slather some Vicks VapoRub over your soles and heels.

rough craggy feet
Vicks VapoRub can help smooth rough and cracking heels.

As an Insect Repellent

The camphor oil found in products like Vicks VapoRub has been cited as a viable means of repelling certain common species of blood-sucking mosquitoes. Other research into the insect repellent qualities of camphor oil has proven that it can be used to repel certain species of beetles. If you happen to run out of your regular bug spray, consider rubbing some Vicks VapoRub into your skin as a substitute; it may not have the power of a dedicated bug repellent but it can certainly keep the bugs from biting while also clearing out your sinuses at the same time.

mosquito bite
The camphor oil found in products like Vicks VapoRub can repel blood-sucking mosquitoes.

Treating Acne Spots

Vicks VapoRub is sometimes suggested as a means of shrinking pimples while a person catches up on their beauty sleep. Vicks VapoRub actually contains several substances, like camphor oil, that are known to deal with unsightly blemishes, and others, like petroleum jelly, that can potentially aggravate acne. Considering the mixed bag of using just Vicks VapoRub to deal with a breakout, it may be best to mix in some of the rub with some jojoba oil and apply that mixture to the affected skin.

woman looking in mirror
Vicks VapoRub can help treat blemishes, but be mindful that it can also irritate acne so use with caution.

RELATED: 10 Uses for Coconut Oil

Relieving Headaches

Believe it or not, there is some truth to the notion that applying some Vicks VapoRub to the base of the skull can help to relieve the user of headaches. This cranial relief is likely due to the properties of mentholated oils and gels. That having been said, this is by no means an ideal solution, to get the benefits of headache reduction when all you have on hand is a vessel of Vicks VapoRub, you will need to slather about three times the amount of a normal use; the survey that showed headache relief from applying mentholated treatments to the skull's base used products that contained 6% or 10% menthol-a normal application of Vicks VapoRub contains only 2.6% menthol.

woman with headache
Next time a headache strikes, rub some Vicks VapoRub at the base of your neck for some potential added relief.

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