Q. I tried putting Vicks VapoRub on the soles of my feet to calm a cough last night. It did absolutely nothing for me. If anything, my cough got worse. My feet felt like they were on fire and the feeling of the Vicks between my toes was just not pleasant. So I will not be doing that ever again. On the plus side, my feet are very soft.

A. Eight years ago a nurse told us about slathering Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet to quiet a nighttime cough. Since then many others have reported success. Here is a typical testimonial: “The real treasure of Vicks VapoRub is the application to the bottom of the feet. When I first heard about it, I had a very bad cough from allergy-related bronchitis. I tried this remedy and it relieved my cough almost immediately.”

Clearly, as your experience demonstrates, Vicks does not work to ease all coughs. If you have athlete’s foot or cracks between your toes, the camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil in the ointment might sting.

There is another “off-label” use for Vicks that we do not recommend because of the burning sensation it may create: ” I read a message on your website about someone who put Vicks VapoRub on his hemorrhoids. He complained that ‘Vicks on his hemorrhoids felt like napalm’ and described the sensation as ‘spontaneous combustion that made me feel like I was a jet fighter with afterburners. Mayday!’

“My experience has been quite different. I have used Vicks on my hemorrhoids and it works amazingly well. Vicks is, however, for external use only. What that means is that if there is broken skin involved then lift-off can be achieved. Vicks on broken skin is not a happy feeling.”

Download our Guide to Unique Uses for Vicks for more details on this traditional treatment used in untraditional ways.

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  1. Juli

    I use this for my 3 year old and have done for just over a year. Works a treat, don’t put too much on put socks on, sorted! I never put any on her chest just the feet apparently your body absorbs it quicker.

  2. s.h.

    Re:Vick’s vapo rub making soles of feet “burn”. Could be that there was some athletes feet or broken skin from that condition. Vick’s helps clear toenail fungus and can clear the athletes feet fungus.
    An acquaintance of mine was told to apply Vick’s on her early shingles. Wow, it helped!

  3. Anonymous

    Make sure the bottle is not too old. Vick’s Vapo-Rub becomes more potent with age. I have a very old jar of the stuff, and all one has to do is open it to clear one’s sinuses. I would never actually put it on my skin, at this stage.

  4. Sandra B.

    My mother in law told me many years ago about a ear ache remedy using Vicks. It works every time. Just put a little Vicks on a cotton ball and put it in an aching ear. Leave it over night. It has never failed to work for me and I have 5 children.

  5. PJ

    A light coating of Vicks on the soles of my feet and a pair of socks over it does an awesome job of lessening, if not totally stopping, coughs. Has improved my sleep during many colds and bouts of bronchitis. I’d urge your readers to try it!

  6. bc

    Worked great for me when I had the flu. I recommend it to everyone to at least try. Just put on BOTTOM/SOLES of feet and put on thick socks before going to bed, and make sure you have no open sores or cuts there. Lasts overnight only.

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