Q. You have often mentioned unusual uses for Vicks VapoRub. I decided to try it on my cracked heels. For the past three years I have applied every possible cream, but nothing worked till I decided to use Vicks. Amazingly, in a couple of applications deep and painful cracks healed. The only drawback: the cracks return if I stop.
A. Vicks VapoRub contains many essential oils in a base of petroleum jelly. If plain petrolatum (such as Vaseline) doesn’t help your cracked heels, the essential oils may be playing a role.
Another reader wrote: “I cured the fungus on my nails with Vicks VapoRub. Two nails had been affected since I was a teenager.
“I also put it on my calluses and easily removed them. After a shower I apply the Vicks to the spots that need it and put on thick white socks.”
Others have reported using Vicks to remove ticks, heal saddle sores on horses and discourage kittens from scratching.
We offer Guides to Unique Uses for Vicks and Home Remedies with uses for common household products like vinegar or baking soda as remedies. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. RVi-77, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. I have been reading about the benefits of fish oil, but where do I find it? My son said you do not mean tuna in oil, that that is not really fish oil. Would you clarify?
A. Your son is correct. Fish oil is extracted from fish, while the oil in the can with tuna is usually soybean or other vegetable oil. Look for fish oil capsules where vitamins are sold. The long-chain essential fatty acids in fish oil help lower triglycerides and cholesterol and reduce inflammation.
Q. Two years ago a dermatologist diagnosed my skin condition as rosacea and prescribed topical tetracycline and MetroLotion to be applied twice daily.
My condition did not improve with this treatment and I was desperate. The redness and rash were chronic and seemed to be getting worse. Before going to the dermatologist, I had already tried all kinds of products, including makeup and over the counter lotions and cortisone creams.
At last I put Argo corn starch on the rosacea. One place on my cheek near my nose looked especially bad. To my surprise, in a week it was healed. Now all I do is wash my face morning and night, then put a light coat of corn starch on my face.
I have not had a recurrence of rosacea. My skin is smooth and clear over my entire face. Am I an isolated case or is there something to this treatment?
A. Rosacea (ro-ZAY-sha) is a chronic skin condition that affects the chin, cheeks, nose or central forehead. Redness, bumps and pimples and visible blood vessels are common.
The cause is somewhat mysterious, but dermatologists frequently treat it with oral antibiotics or topic anti-infectives like MetroGel or MetroLotion (metronidazole). Cortisone creams can make rosacea worse.
Gentle face washing twice a day is recommended, but as far as we can tell, your corn starch approach is unorthodox. We do not know if it would help anyone else or if you are an isolated case. The condition can wax and wane, but if this low-tech treatment works, count yourself fortunate.

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