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Keep Vicks VapoRub Out Of The Nose

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Q. I was rubbing some Vicks VapoRub on my daughter and by accident I touched my nose after sneezing. A miniscule amount of it went into my nostril. Will this be harmful to me? For a few hours I could taste it even though I rinsed my mouth out immediately.

A. We have warned in the past about keeping Vicks VapoRub out of the nostrils where it could be inhaled. The petrolatum base might then accumulate in the lungs and cause inflammation called chemical pneumonitis.

This caution is directed at the practice of deliberately daubing Vicks in the nose as some people do. We doubt the miniscule amount that got into your nostril will cause you any harm.

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I had an email concerning Vicks VapoRub being used for a cough. You are supposed to cover your feet with Vicks, put socks on, and leave it on overnight. Supposedly this will really help with the cough. Is this true? I have a friend who says this works every time but wonder how many others have used it with success.

I am 58 and my husband 62. Our moms used to put it on our chests and in our noses and on our upper lips. We never suffered any damage to our knowledge after years of this kind of treatment.

I put Vicks Vaporub into my nostrils every night for several years. I have had a dry, persistent cough for many years. It has never been diagnosed as any specific disease, and I am very healthy and active at 67. I do not take any medications, only vitamins and herbs. Could the cough be related to the Vicks usage?

When I was a girl (60+ years ago) all mothers stuffed Vicks up our noses when a cold came. And, rubbed it all over our chests, as well as creating "vapor" with a steaming teakettle and Vicks. Really amazing, that those of my generation survived!

I rub a bit of Jason's Tea Tree Pain Reliever at the base of my nose in order to breathe more freely at night, especially if I have a cold. I use it twice daily to relieve pain from arthritis in my big toe. it contains no mineral oil or petroleum.

I have always liked the scent of Vicks VapoRub and use it very successfully to combat dry lips. Should I stop doing this?

I have been using Vicks INSIDE my nose all my life with no problems. It's the only way to clear my blocked nose at times when I am trying to sleep at night. The only other thing that helps is a cold room.


My daughter was chewed up by mosquitoes while she was at the horse stable in Phoenix. I suggested she put Vicks VapoRub on the bites to help the itching. It did the job!!! Annette

I have alway put vicks in my nose and melted about 1 tsp full and added it with cough syrup to relieve the cough and loosen mucus in my chest. I am 50 yrs old and have done this as long as I can remember. My Grandmother did it. Never had any adverse affects.

I'm in my mid-40's. For the past 6 months I've been putting Vicks Vaporub in my nostrils before bed. I also have put a nasal strip on my nose (for over 3 years) to open my nose so I can breath, otherwise I wake up panicking for air. I suspect I have sleep apnea, but it costs too much to go to the doctor to find out, and besides they would just tell me I have to buy one of those expensive machines to put on at night. But I have had a persistant cough and feeling starved for air at times during the day (for the past month), so I suspect its from the Vicks, so I'll have to stop doing the Vicks up the nose. Out of desperation, I'll probably still use it when I have a bad cold. Thank you very much for the good information.

When we were kids in the fifties and sixties, my mom would give us a teaspoon of vicks to eat when we had a cold. We all lived through it... I can't honestly say whether it helped or not.

It seems there a lot more uses for Vicks Vaporub than most people knew! Besides helping my stuffy nose, it has worked to stop my nose from itching like crazy from allergic rhinitis. I use it on my feet when they're burning and stinging, and for cracked heels; also for aching muscles from fibromyalgia/overuse syndrome. But I can't believe anyone would actually ingest it! Isn't ingestion of any petroleum product like taking poison?

I have a jar of Vaporub that is at least 22 years old, maybe older. I know this because it still says manufactured by Vicks... In 1985 P&G bought it and there is no reference to P&G on the label.

It smells the same today as it did 20 years ago. There is no expiration date on the label. I used it as recently as last week and have never had a negative reaction to it. My question is, does this stuff ever go bad?

I always put Vicks in my nose if i have a stuffy nose, or if i'm sick. But on the bottle it does NOT say to put in your nose. Should i stop putting Vicks in my nose ?

I use vaporub on everything. My mother and grandma did, too, since I can remember. I use it for mosquito bites, ant bites--it prevents skin from getting infected by the bites.

I also use it for my chapped lips, and for a small cut or scrape, put some under the band aid and your cut heals by the next day. You can use it on an infected sid, heals faster. It also cures athlete's foot.

I suffer terribly when I get a cold as I have right now. I get a hacking deep cough that keeps me awake all night long. My neighbor was over a few days ago and said someone mentioned to him about putting Vicks Vapo Rub on the bottom of one's feet to stop a cough. Well I tried it and low and behold my cough stopped instantly. I was pleasantly overwhelmed and shocked at how quickly this worked. I only wish I had known about this sooner. I will definitely be passing this information on to others. I will never be without this product.

My grandmother used to put Vicks salve in my nose and on my chest at night, and I did the same for my children. I have, however, stopped the nose thing since reading about the warnings. I have had chronic bronchitis for many years, but attributed that to smoking, which I haven't done now for over 20 years. I'll always wonder if the Vicks had anything to do with that. Still use it on the chest area, just not in the nose. Great product!

My girlfriend who is 55 years old, has always put Vicks Vapo rub on a q-tip and inserted some inside her nostrils when she can't breathe through her nose or when she has a cold. She has just discovered that she has a hole in the membrane between her two nostrils. Could this be from the Vicks all these years later?

I have been using Vicks Vapo Rub for a while now and use it mostly in my nose, even though the warning says not to. It is the only thing that helps me breathe better during the night because of my allergies. It really helps tremendously. Even though there is the warning, I just keep thinking, if it helps me breathe, then why stop? I try not to use it often, but sometimes it can be hard.

As a forensic crime scene detective, I have used Vicks in my nose to block the smell of noxious odours for many years. No adverse effects have been apparent. However, I am aware that adverse effects may still present a serious concern over the long term.

i have been using vicks vaporub for a number of years. i have inserted it in my nostrils and time to time i have even swallowed some. i have't got any adverse effects. is their any adverse effects if swallowed.


I have used vicks salve on the bottom of my feet for quite some time. It helps me to sleep. It gives you a very contented feeling. I also use melatonin. I have a Bachelor of Science in Natural Health.

Use it on the ambulance, rub it on the exterior edges of the nares to block potent patient odors.

I have allergies all year round and it seems that my nose gets stuffier with each year that passes. I've used Vick's in and under my nose for the past couple of years in order to sleep at night. My nose is so stuffed up all the time, I nearly have panic attacks just thinking about laying down to try to sleep. My health has deteriorated due to lack of sleep. What else can I do but use the Vicks? Anybody have any other remedies to relieve the stuffiness?

I read some of the comments here about Vapo-Rub on the feet helping a persistent cough. As ridiculous as it sounds it does work 100% of the time and almost instantly.

My cough was so bad recently that it was hard for me to stop long enough to catch my breath. I had heard of using Vicks Vapo-Rub on the bottom of the feet and covering them with socks to protect the sheets but always thought it sounded silly. This time I was desperate. I tried it and it worked like a miracle.

I slept like a baby for hours. Tried it again the next day and again it worked instantly. A few days later my other half came down with the same cough and it worked perfectly for her too. A short time later my 16 year old granddaughter got the cough and it worked for her too. Believe or not.

I can not believe that after 4 years of an agonizing cough I am actually able to say this but am very excited about being able to do so. Four years ago I had a benign Meningioma brain tumor removed. During the surgery the 10th cranial nerve (which controls our coughing reflex) was damaged and I was left with this ungodly, uncontrollable cough. It has been so severe that it has caused me to have three bulging discs, at one time they thought I had cracked my ribs which of course created excruciating pain, has affected my bladder, bowels, etc., etc.. It is very embarrassing out in public and have had people get up and move away from me because they think I am contagious and look at me like I have no right to be our in public.

I went from doctor to doctor and NO ONE had ever heard of such a thing happening (cough caused from a damaged nerve) and no one knew of anyway to help me. My ENT (who I respect a lot) told me that it made perfect since since that particular nerve controls any coughing reflex but he had never had a patient who had the problem (just like EVERYONE else I went to). He had me try an anti-convulsion drug which he said he had had luck with before but it didn't help.

I've tried Delsyum 12 and everything recommended by pharmacist with no luck. About two weeks ago I read about the Vicks on the feet thing and tried it and I couldn't believe how much it helped. I had just come back from Indiana from visiting family and coughed terribly the entire time I was there. My throat and chest were killing me and I knew it was the "tumor cough" and I was not sick. I have used Vicks for chest colds since I was a kid and sometimes was able to get through the night by putting it on the chest but had never heard of using it on the feet.

So I tried it, and within five minutes I got relief. It doesn't stop it completely, but greatly reduced the frequency of the cough which is a godsend for me. I could not believe after everything I have been through that something like this worked. Even if it is all in my mind (which I don't think it is. Ha!) I will keep on using it and I don't care what anybody says. PLEASE pass this around as it just might help someone else in my position that no DOCTOR seems to be able to help.

We also used Vicks Vapo Rub in nose, on chest, and in heated water as we were growing up. Just recently read the safety data sheet and information from the poison control center... Vicks VapoRub used to be made with higher amounts of camphor... when the safety people determined that "children" were ingesting this and the amount was too high for their small bodies to tolerate, the safety people made them cut the camphor back to 11 % which wasn't as effective... so the manufacturers started using a synthetic ingredient which now has a turpentine base to create the camphor-like smell...

Changing times...hopes this helps

Yes, it will work. Apply Vicks on your foot and use cotton socks. (myself, wife 4 years daughter and 2 years son) for the last 4 years we are using, very good remedy for cold and cough. I don't know Doctors will agree for it or not? but we never used any medicine for our children.

I use Vicks on my family's chest and bottom of the feet works great for my kids and I. I was told to do so by a nurse practitioner when my 8 year old came down with an upper respiratory infection, I thought it was the craziest advice but thought what could it hurt? Tried it... Worked great within 5 min of application you feel less congested. You would be amazed and the best part is you actually sleep through the night!

In school we were taught to put Vick's UNDER your nose (on your upper lip) to mask the odor... not in the nose.

For years I have had great results with Peppermint oil. You can sniff it or put just a little on a Q tip and touch the inside of your nose. It only takes a drop, don't use much it can burn, although that goes away shortly. I even put it on my tongue and swallow. It will definitely open you up. Hope this helps

I don't get it.
You can put VapoRub in hot steaming water and inhale the vapors, yet you shouldn't put some under your nose because it might harm you?
Please explain.

People's Pharmacy response: If you inhale actual particles of the petroleum jelly base, your lungs cannot clear it. If you inhale the steam, it is primarily herbal components such as eucalyptol and thymol.

I have a friend who put vicks up her nose for many many yrs and died of lung cancer.

I have just discovered the DO NOT PLACE IN MOUTH OR NOSTRILS.

After using Vicks to aid sinuses by applying some to the inside of my nose for 4 football matches in the past two weeks i have discovered an uncomfortable cough at night before i sleep and when i wake up. I suffer with hayfever and i put it down to that but upon thinking about it, the syptoms were more specific than the constant sneezing and itchy eyes.

I probably have never used Vicks for anything before and i have seen football players use it care free. This is a worrying matter given the complications it leads to. I was lucky enough that i have noticed something is wrong after maybe dabbing it on 4 or 5 times in two weeks but for long term uses the outcome sounds terminal. I read the Vicks product information on their website also the product itself, and i think the notice of warning is easily ignorable.

As a suggestion they should raise a firmer awareness, thus saving doctors times and maybe even hospital situations. As i type i am experiencing discomfort with inhalation through my nose. Every breath i take in tickles my throat and causes me to cough. Should i be worried to the point of seeing a doctor immediatly ? Or is it a case of let it pass by after learning my lesson?

What about the Vicks inhaler tube? Is that bad also?

LOL we are on the same boat

To Elias and anyone else who suspects they have sleep apnea:
Please bring up your concerns with a doctor. Otherwise you are risking high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, heart failure, stroke, and even falling asleep behind the wheel of a car. My dad uses a breathing machine every night, and although (of course) was resistant to using it at first, he has become so used to it. This is treatable and not worth putting your life or anyone else's at risk. I still have nightmares of him swerving off the road.

Vicks changed the formula for VapoRub several years back (check the ingredient list on the box).

The new version doesn't work as well.


It's always the youngsters that worry too much.
I'm 22 I've just stuck it on my feet chest and outside of nose and feel a bit better. I have a general cold :)
I also boiled water and stuck a bit in it earlier and that worked too :)

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