Q. I’ve been battling a common cold this week. One night, in desperation, I coated the soles of my feet with Vicks and the cough subsided. I have no idea how that could work, but I don’t care. I slept!

A. We are as mystified as you are about this remedy. A nurse told us a decade ago that putting Vicks VapoRub on the soles of her child’s feet stopped a nighttime cough. Since then we have heard from scores of other readers that this is helpful. Anyone who tries this strategy should be sure to put on socks over the Vicks to protect the sheets.

We suspect that the menthol and thymol in Vicks are helpful. Menthol, after all, is found in many cough drops (approved by the FDA). Many readers attest that drinking a cup of thyme tea, made by steeping 1/2 teaspoon thyme in 6 ounces boiling water, can also ease a cough.

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  1. Wendy Bradshaw
    Reply

    Hi everyone,
    I as well am a RN and my 8 yr old has been suffering from terrible congestion the last 3 nights. I applied natural Menthol Rub to his chest, back and feet and within 30 mins he was sleeping like a lamb. I am a believer. Incredible. He was coughing terribly and could not expectorate this junk out of his lungs even after daily doses of children Mucinex. This is a definite ” GO TO” home remedy! Taking him to MD in am. :)

  2. kerry grimes
    Reply

    Hi all I’ve just tryed the vick’s rub on my husband feet and I was shocked how it worked. I can not believe it he’s been coghing for the last 2 weeks and now he’s stopped. Thank you sooo much for the advice I like to tell you all please try it it does work.

  3. Hazel G
    Reply

    I was recommended to use Vic Vapour Rub on a toenail fungal infection I’d had for some weeks. It practically disappeared overnight!

  4. Michele D
    Reply

    After reading all the positive results, thought I’d give it a go last night after very little sleep through coughing the last few days.
    Did make some difference but not as much as I’d hoped. Took about an hour to reduce coughing, and when I did cough the burning sensation was significantly reduced. Managed to get about 3 hours continuous sleep. But after that the cough was annoying as ever.
    Did notice that if I turned over I needed to cough a bit as everything settled down again.
    Not sure I would retry as my partner complained about the smell.
    An added bonus, great for my cracked heels.

  5. Jo H.
    Reply

    I have had a really bad cough for 3 weeks in spite of two courses of strong antibiotics and steroids….I read Vick rubbed on baby’s feet helps coughs.
    this morning in desperation I rubbed Vick on the soles of my feet ELEVEN hours later not one cough. Unbelievable….I can hardly believe it…….what a miracle and before you say it NO it was not in my mind…….arrangements were being made for a CAT scan I was so ill.

  6. j.w
    Reply

    My 4 year old son was always getting bad coughs and chest infections which made him have very restless nights. But after trying vapour rub on his feet at night he now hasn’t had a bad cough or restless night for a long time.

  7. Jennifer B.
    Reply

    I too have coughing like you describe. I just tried this remedy yesterday and within five minutes my cough had calmed. I am so excited about this!!

  8. SJ
    Reply

    This really works! My husband has had a terrible cough the past week, and it’s especially bad when he is trying to sleep. He has slept on the couch the past few nights because he didn’t want to wake me up coughing all night.
    He has tried taking all sorts of medicine to help. I had heard that putting Vicks on the bottom of your feet with socks will help ease coughing, so I decided to try it on him.
    Within a couple minutes his cough was calming down. After about 15 minutes it stopped completely and he was sound asleep! I’m definitely going to do this from now on whenever one of us has a cough at night!

  9. porschea
    Reply

    My 5 year old has had a cough for a few days now..I’ve been pulling my hair out wrecking my brain on feeling helpless for her.
    I remembered long ago when my grandmother would put vapor rub on our feet.and then applied socks. So I decided to do the same for my daughter….and of course my grandmother never steered me wrong and now today it still works. She is finally asleep after about 15 minutes.

  10. trail
    Reply

    My son has been coughing nonstop today and especially tonight. So I went online to see what remedies were out there. I came across the vicks vapor rub on the feet thing. My son has completely stopped coughing and is sound asleep. IT WORKED WITHIN 10-15 MINUTES

  11. PlanoCJ
    Reply

    I ran across this method on Pinterest. Our son has had a bad cold. Now the cough has settled in. He has been coughing for 2 days. Also coughing off and on most of the night allowing a lousy night of sleep for a teenager. ;( I decided to try it last night. I rubbed a generous amount of Vick’s Vapor Rub on his feet like instructed and put a pair of socks on to keep the VVR off of the sheets. Not 5 mins. later he claimed to feel a tingling in his feet. Not 10 mins. later the cough attacks had calmed and less than a half hour we never heard another cough all night. He also slept soundly all night. I’m sold!
    If this works in order to give him a good night of sleep it is WELL worth it. We’ll be doing it again tonight if he is not any better and still coughing. Also I recommend using Dawn Dish Washing liquid in the morning to cut thru the ointment on the feet. My hands were soft after applying it to his feet and washing it off last night. ;) Don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it.

  12. Jenny
    Reply

    I just tried this vicks remedy about 10 minutes ago and my coughing has already stopped…I was coughing every 3-5 minutes for about 30 minutes straight and its amazing how something can work so quickly. Not even those over the counter medications work as well as vicks, soles and socks! Love it =]

  13. KF
    Reply

    I’d struggled on and off with bronchitis for years, but thought I had staved it off with herbal remedies, since it hasn’t recurred in a long time Well, this week, it was back with a vengeance, including sleepless nights, and no amount of herbal remedies, cough medicines or anything would stop it, so I found this solution on my feet. It helped the first night. It didn’t stop the coughing but slowed it enough to sleep.
    I tried it a 2nd night, and it was somewhat less effective and my feet were burning up this morning. Also the bottoms of the feet were red and very tender. Anybody else encountered this?

  14. jaseansmom06
    Reply

    My poor 6 year old son has asthma and is also dealing with some mean allergy symptoms at once. He has been absolutely miserable the past couple days. Had to come out of school early today because he was feeling so bad. I rubbed some vicks on his chest & neck, but it didn’t seem to work that much. Then I used google to find out about the vicks on feet phenomenon, and I absolutely decided to try it. So far the coughing has subsided considerably, and I’m amazed.
    He hasn’t stopped coughing completely, but the coughs are fewer and more far between than they have been all day. Even with his prescription singulair, his claritin, his albuterol, and his tylenol combined we weren’t able to shake that cough. But this vicks has worked wonders.
    He’s coughing once or twice every thirty minutes as opposed to coughing 25 times every thirty minutes. I am so grateful to have found this good advice. I will definitely be passing it on!

  15. JP
    Reply

    I coated my daughters feet quite generously as that is what alot of people had said do and to put socks over and worked a dream.

  16. SMG
    Reply

    A good friend told me to rub a thick layer of vicks on my feet… I thought she was nuts, but since sleep had eluded me for days I was willing to try just about anything. (I have allergies and asthma. This was the first time I had heard of putting it on my feet.) I am amazed!! I still have a cold, but I do not cough at night anymore. Which not only thrills me, but also thrills my husband.

  17. sam
    Reply

    I tried it last night. It works, even with chronic asthma coughs!!!

  18. MK
    Reply

    @JIMH
    When you say a ‘dot’- how much is that?
    I’ve used about half a tablespoon & I’m worried that it’s too much.
    Many thanks,
    Matt

  19. JP
    Reply

    My 3yr old daughter has coughed non stop for few days to the point she was sick. Came across this about vicks and socks. Put it on her feet 15 mins ago and now not a peep out of her (except snoring) I am truly amazed at this helpful way to suppress a cough……..thankyou……thankyou……thankyou!!

  20. JM
    Reply

    Had a cough for almost 8 weeks/ Could not stop! Was in the drs office every Friday AM for 4 Fridays. Nothing helped. Bactrim Amoxi … Everything and anything I could try.. to no avail!
    Son told me about the vapor rub and got almost instant relief. No coughing at all the first night. Hard to believe but IT WORKS!

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