Jar of Vicks VapoRub

Q. I have been amused to read about the use of Vicks VapoRub to fight toenail fungus. My elbows were very scaly and getting uncomfortable to lean on. Since scaly skin might be a sign of fungus and I had VapoRub on hand, I thought I’d try it.

It’s been two months and the elbows are about 85 percent better, but here is the really cool thing. I am an artist. Since I turned 50, my fingertips would split and bleed whenever I handled paper, worked in the garden or washed too often. It was almost impossible to put any kind of pressure on my fingers. I was wearing bandages on my fingertips and feeling debilitated.

Since treating my elbows for fungus, my hands have stopped splitting and bleeding. They had been so sore I had trouble doing any fine finger work. I conclude my fingers must also have had a fungal infection and the oils in the VapoRub have helped my skin stay whole.

A. We don’t know if fungus would cause your scaly elbows or cracked split fingertips. The volatile oils in Vicks VapoRub do seem to have some anti-fungal action. Vicks contains petrolatum, which is also an effective moisturizer.

We keep hearing about unusual uses for Vicks. Some people report that it can be helpful for headaches, sore joints, toenail fungus, paper cuts and splinters. Some people use Vicks on horses: “When I was a teenager, my friends and I often gathered across the street to watch our elderly neighbor groom his horse. When he came across a worn place-like a saddle sore-he would rub it with Vicks.”

We’ve also heard that Vicks VapoRub is useful under the nostrils of a young stallion training to be a racehorse. The scent interferes with that of the fillies across the field and keeps him focused on the track instead.

A cat lover shared this story: “My kitten Percy enjoyed attacking my feet and legs. We discouraged his behavior using the methods suggested the by the vet, the SPCA animal behaviorist, and many books on the subject, but the behavior continued. The vet was getting very concerned about the condition of my legs.

“In desperation I thought of putting Vicks VapoRub on my feet and legs to turn him away. It worked and the vet has spread the word to other cat lovers.”

One of the most unusual uses for Vicks is to suppress a nighttime cough. You don’t put it on your chest…rather you smear it on the soles of your feet! Read more about this unusual application here!

Should you wish to learn more about the unusual uses people have come up with for Vicks VapoRub (including the treatment of hemorrhoids), you may wish to look at our Guide to Unique Uses for Vicks.

We have hundreds of other intriguing uses for common household products in our book from National Geographic, The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. Gabrielle

    Hi readers, I have a small mount of what I think is psoriasis. I use Vicks vapor rub at night, not a cure but it helps, smells a little but I like the smell.

  2. Dan

    Yes Vicks is certainly the best to control and appears to be healing, you just have to be consistant and apply it . I tried everything on the shelf and i can say that it is 75% that appears healed, but I still apply at least once a day for as long as possible.

  3. Gracie

    Petrolatum isn’t toxic? It Is comes from petroleum.

  4. Krista

    I’ve been using Vicks Vaporub on my psoriasis for years and it’s virtually gone. If I put it on a patch at bedtime, by the next morning, it’s at least 50% improved. I swear by it and I even like how it smells!

  5. Paul43

    I would like to hear more.

  6. Shirley May

    Re Vicks VapoRub for psoriasis. I’ve been dealing with ps. on the soles of my feet for three years, especially during the dry winter months. They itch, I scratch, consequently irritating the ps. even more to the point of causing pain. I was occasionally trying Vaseline and/or Crisco on my feet, covered with a sock through the night.
    That wasn’t helping very much so about two weeks ago I started rubbing Vicks on my soles at bedtime, and wearing socks to bed. The scaling and itching has been tremendously reduced. I don’t know if the Vicks actually has healing potential but do know that my skin is so much smoother now and as long as I apply it at least every couple nights, the itching and scratching is almost negligible. I highly recommend trying it. As an aside — because I don’t like socks cramping my toes while sleeping, I’ve cut the toes off a couple old pair of white socks. This also seals in the Vicks and keeps the grease off the sheets.
    Try it – you’ll like it

  7. Amy G.

    Tony D. — Have you tried taking black currant seed oil? I had a miserable red itchy rash on my arms each winter until I started taking a 1000 mg capsule of that twice a day.

  8. paulbyr

    In the initial question, the submitter said he/she had fingertips split and bleeding and the Vicks Varorub helped that problem too. I also have that problem, during the heating months, and find it pretty hard to type on my computer with the adhesive bandages around my finger tips. I use Neosporin type meds under the bandage and concluded that the petroleum jelly base moisturizes the split and the medicine allows quick healing. It does not prevent re-occurence; I wondered if the writer had found that the Vicks did prevent splitting.
    I doubt I could stand the Vicks smell and my dog wouldn’t let me pet her any more :o).

  9. Tony D

    Every story I read that has anything to do with skin in your column makes me wonder if it will help my psoriasis!! I have tried everything from MOM to tumeric to tea tree oil. I tried tumeric and tumeric curcumin.
    The MOM and some other products (the shampoo for scalp) etc made things worse – dried out the skin even more. Guess I’ll try this also!! Have any of your readers tried it for psoriasis that you know?

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