soles of feet poking out from under the covers

“When I get ughughs 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 cough 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. Lillian

    Totally works I’ve used this remedy with my oldest and now my youngest child about 20 minutes ago in fact and no more cough and he’s sleeping soundly now if it could make a worry wart of a mother sleep?

  2. S

    I thought this was a joke at first but it actually works!

  3. Teresa Phillips
    United States

    Yes this remedy is amazing ;)

  4. Lai

    Yesterday, my friend told me he had cough for 2 weeks. His is the kind that shakes his whole body and deprives him of sleep. I remember this email about Vicks being effective when applied on the soles and covered with cotton socks. (I actually tried this long ago, it was effective but mine was mild.)
    Told him about this remedy. Today, he said he is a total believer. He slept through the night.

  5. Daphne

    I love Vicks when I have a cold and I slather it on my neck and chest because it opens the nasal passages for easier breathing. I started three days ago with a head cold and irritating dry itchy cough. A friend suggested I give a try to this crazy “Vicks on the Feet” thing and much to to my amazement- the coughing stopped immediately! This is so weird!

  6. Brenda

    ughughs? Weird typo!

  7. Erica
    Willis Tx

    WOW!!! I am blown away!!! Last monday, i went into the hospital with a mild cough and body aching, because i had NO FEVER, they sent me home. The next day, i work up with 102.1 fever, a nasty, harsh cough that hurt so bad, i was choking and throwing up kinda cough. I got better feom body aches and fever… But the cough stuck with me!! My husband and my dad went out and bought $50 on medication for me, and nothing worked. I was eating Hall’s 4-6 at a time and didnt work. Today… I finally remembered my Hispanic side of the family telling me a long time ago about VapoRub on the soles of your feet with socks, stops coughing. THANK GOD MY HUSBAND BOUGHT ME SOME, so i did this about an hour or so ago, and GREAT !!! My baby boy started coughing this afternoon , and him himself is using this aswell. Works 100% THANK GOD!!!

  8. sandy

    My daughter’s been coughing for two days non-stop.. took her to the E.R. They said she was too young to be prescribed meds. What’s a mother to do when it’s 1 am and u have an irritated two years old that’s trying to sleep through this horrible cough. So I read this post. Went bought the product. Slathered her soles in it and she immediately stopped coughing. Holy cow it actually worked!!

  9. sarah

    Its magic!! try it!!

  10. Alastair TJ

    I don’t know why but it definitely works I had the worst tickly cough and its gone !!!!!

  11. Jennifer

    Works great during the day too. Was on Codeine cough syrup to no avail, Tessalon to no avail, honey tea, sodas, Mucinex, whatever I could try…nothing worked day or night. I also have Asthma. Stumbled across the Vicks info about feet online and ended up here. Have been coughing over a week and have been missing work. So much so that my muscles mid-section hurt terribly now and I was camping on the couch so my Husband could sleep. Totally amazing. Now to figure out how to put it on my feet at work so that it can’t be smelled by others!

  12. T

    I have pneumonia and I have coughed for over 2weeks. The last 3 nights I had no sleep at all as the cough got unbearable. I walked the floor. My partner then joked “why don’t you try the Vicks on your feet remedy” as his friend had read about it.

    I thought I’ll try anything just to have a good night’s sleep. I rubbed quite a bit into the soles of my feet, then put thick sports socks on. As the time went by my feet just started to warm up and I went straight to sleep. I slept all through the night and just started to have a cough at 7am again but at least I had a good night sleep.

    If you are reading consider trying it because it really did work for me!

  13. joe
    United States

    OMG! I just did this and it worked. I have a cold…about three days into it, so not on the way out and my throat was itching really bad and I kept coughing. I gargled with salt water, drank tea, gargled with peroxide and nothing helped. I couldn’t stop coughing. Thought I would try the vicks on the feet and haven’t coughed since. This is sooooooooooooooo weird. hahaha Do it!!

  14. joe
    United States

    OMG! I just did this and it worked. I have a cold…about three days into it, so not on the way out and my throat was itching really bad and I kept coughing. I gargled with salt water, drank tea, gargled with paroxide and nothing helped. I couldn’t stop coughing. Thought I would try the vicks on the feet and haven’t coughed since. This is so weird.

  15. 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?

  16. anjali


  17. 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!!

  18. 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!

  19. 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…

  20. 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!!

  21. 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.

  22. sue

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

  23. sue
    dallas tx

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

  24. 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!!!

  25. Janie

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

  26. 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?

    • kathleen
      New York

      I saw this on a sitcom and after asking a local Mom’s group about what to do this was suggested to me. While looking for the vicks in the middle of the night I woke my husband up. Well this morning when I told him why I was looking for it he told me about his Kooky co worker putting vicks on his toe fungus and it worked. I guess this stuff is like Windex. I just put in on the soles of my feet so hopefully it will work.

  27. Meg

    Placebo or not…who cares, it works!

  28. 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. :)

  29. 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

  30. 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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