soles of feet poking out from under the covers

“When I get coughs they’re intense. I cough to the point of throwing up and throwing my upper back out, ending up in the hospital. I always leave with narcotics for my back, a muscle relaxant, cough medicine with codeine, Sudafed, and Motrin.

“The only thing ever to come of this combination of medications is a lot of crankiness and I fall asleep for a couple of hours, only to wake up coughing. My friend told me to try the Vicks VapoRub treatment on the soles of my feet and then put on warm, thick socks. One night, because I was tired of being crabby from the oxycodone cough medicine I decided to give it a try.

“Within 20 minutes of using the treatment I was asleep and didn’t cough all night and didn’t start until I was getting ready to go to work. I tried it again the next night with the same results. After a few nights my cough was mostly gone, aside from a bit of a mild tickly cough.

“It’s amazing. I don’t generally go for these types of silly remedies – I worked in the military medical field for years and am very mainstream medicine. I tried this out of desperation, fully expecting it not to work. I am still shocked but am now a total believer.”


We were as skeptical as you were when we first heard about putting Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet to calm a nighttime cough. The woman who shared this remedy called it “wacky” and we certainly had to agree. We cannot explain it either.

With that disclaimer in place, however, we have to admit that we have tried it ourselves and to our amazement have found that Vicks does indeed seem to work when it is smeared on the soles of the feet. Thick socks are essential, though, or else you will create a sticky mess of your sheets.

Here are some other stories that support this bizarre remedy:

“Just last week, my grandson was staying here and had developed a cough starting that morning. When it didn’t go away, I searched my cabinet for cough medicine only to find out I was out. So…I remembered reading about the Vicks on the soles of the feet here and decided to test it out.

“It was unbelievable. He stopped coughing immediately and didn’t cough again until later the NEXT day. I was blown away! It really worked for him. I’m not sure it would work for everyone and for every cough, but I was really impressed.”

 “I heard about this remedy last year after suffering about two weeks coughing every night and losing sleep. Nothing would stop the cough. Then I tried the vicks and had the first good night of sleep. Now I use it every time I get a cold.”


 “Tried this remedy last night after my wife’s mom read about it in the Dallas Mornign News. We decided it couldn’t hurt to try, since Mucinex, Symbicort and various other methods had failed to reduce my cold-induced post nasal drip-cough. Imagine our surprise when it worked almost immediately, allowing us both get the good night’s sleep in three days. We’re going to buy Vicks in a gallon jug size.”


Now we assure you that we do NOT own stock in any drug company and do not benefit in the least from talking about Vicks VapoRub. But we love to pass on simple and affordable remedies that seem to work. Since drugstore cough medicines with dextromethorphan do not impress us, we are always looking for other options.

If you would like to learn about some other approaches to calming a cough or easing cold symptoms, we suggest our Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu. We are especially fond of thyme tea.

And we would like to hear from you about various cough and cold remedies that work (or fail). Please share your story below so that others can learn from your experience.

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  1. Jeff

    Someone where I worked told me about this remedy. She struck me as one of those “gullible hippie chicks” who would believe anything as long as it didn’t involve ingesting something. Anyway, two months later, I had a nasty cough. After going to bed and coughing for hours, working every angle of the adjustable bed, and propping myself up with pillows, I was desperate enough to try the Vicks VapoRub thing. Doubtful as I was, this actually worked – with two-year-old VapoRub, nonetheless. I’m not saying it’s a miracle cure, but if you can get a good night’s sleep out of it, why not try it out?

  2. anjali


  3. Treshel
    Wausau, WI

    I have been putting Vick’s on my child’s feet since she was little, and she is now 19 yrs old. I always made her keep socks on or put a sleeper (one piece pajamas with the feet) on. I never read this before since this was over probably 17 or 18 yrs ago, when I first did this. My thought was that it couldn’t hurt since your feet are a big factor in your whole body, and if the first time it didn’t work, then at least she would sweat out her cold. But it did work great!! It helped with the cough and the nasal, and the fever even, in one to three days she would be better, depending on how bad of a cold she had. And I have been telling all of my friends with children about it since. So glad other people have tried this and that it works for them also!! And if you haven’t tried it, I suggest to do so!!

  4. Christina
    Cincinnati , Ohio

    Tried this silly remedy and omg!!
    It really works!!
    I’m so thankful I was missing soooo much work because working with the public you can’t show signs of anything contagious these days people just freak out, I have had issues with smokers cough more so in the cold air then summer, yes it worked on even a smokers cough!! I’m just in shock!
    How weird is this!

  5. Kelly

    I have been coughing non stop since yesterday and ALL day today. I just put VVR on my feet a few minutes ago for the first time, so far I’ve coughed a bit, let ya know tomorrow if it worked or not…

  6. jen

    I have had a very tickly cough for a couple days, when I take a deep breath my body can’t handle it and I cough so deep it hurts my back… I just put globs of it on my feet and I can breathe deeply without hacking!! It works awesome!!

  7. ken r.
    United States

    My wife is Peruvian and while we lived there for over two years, we used this. I had forgotten about this since I don’t get sick often. The last couple of days I have had an awful cough and gotten no sleep, as well as the doctor’s office being FULL of people and my not being able to get an appointment until early tomorrow afternoon. I am all over this tonight and look forward to RELIEF.

  8. sue

    I applied the Vick’s to the sole on my feet it helped my nagging cough and I was able to sleep.

  9. sue
    dallas tx

    Well it does work I was skeptical, but had a nagging cough, and it helped me sleep

  10. maria g.

    I have been sick for 3 weeks now. I have a sinus infection and the doctor gave me antibiotics, but nothing for the cough. Today is 12/17/14 and I haven’t been able to sleep. I came upon this by accident. But I’m glad I did!! Vick’s Vapor rub really works when you put it on the bottom of your feet. It worked instantly on me. I was able to fall asleep right away. Thanks!!!

  11. Janie

    Perhaps it is the warm socks which make warm feet that give us a deeper sleep thus less coughing. :)

  12. EB
    Dallas TX

    One of my employees told me about this way to treat a cough which wakes me up at night from sinus drainage. I have been using VVR for a while for toenail fungus and have found it helps. Since my employee told me about spreading it on the bottom of my feet I’ve done it ever since and have had the best sleep in months. I haven’t even had the cough that long. I know to test this out I should not spread it on my feet to see if I don’t sleep as well, but why would I do that when I’m sleeping so well?
    I did see on Snopes that they warn against the use of VVR for a long time because it contains camphor. Is this something to be concerned about?

  13. Meg

    Placebo or not…who cares, it works!

  14. Rhonda S
    Johnson city, tn

    I heard about this too years ago and totally forgot about it until last night at 1 a.m. when I told my friend on Facebook I had not slept in a week because I have really bad bronchitis. Add bronchitis to cough variant type asthma and you have a horrible, grating, deep cough. I was so exhausted this morning after work, I went to the store bought some Vicks came home and applied it to my feet and chest and within a few minutes I started breathing better, my muscles relaxed and I went to sleep! I’ve used it on my chest alone and I’ve never had that effect before. I’ve had it on my feet for 6 hours now and I’ve only coughed a little since. Perhaps it’s the placebo effect, perhaps I was at the turning point of my illness, or perhaps it worked. Not sure. Seeing as I have this cough usually for the entire winter (though not as severe usually), I’m going to test it. :)

  15. Martina Blackwell
    United States

    I just now did this for the 1st time… it’s thanksgiving day 2014 and I am sick as a dog so I thought I give this a try….it works..since I applied vicks about 10 minutes ago, I don’t have the urge to cough! Maybe it’s true

  16. Scott Fales

    My daughter could not stop coughing, tried this vicks vapor rub remedy, worked immediately. Unbelievable. I have to find out why this works! Thank You

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