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Is Vicks Dangerous Against Hemorrhoids?

Vicks for relief of hemorrhoids is a controversial remedy. Some love it, but others hate it. We have gone from cautious to DO NOT USE Vicks!
Is Vicks Dangerous Against Hemorrhoids?
Spencer, Wisconsin,January,14,2018    Jar of Vicks VapoRub Vicks is a brand of over the counter medications owned by Procter & Gamble

We are always astonished at the remedies people use to treat hemorrhoids. We once made the mistake of sharing one of those remedies on public television. Ooops! We are stating for the record: Do Not Put Vicks VapoRub On Your Hemorrhoids! No everyone believes us:

Q. I am 13 weeks pregnant. I was constipated for two days, but today I had bad diarrhea. As a result, I developed a super uncomfortable hemorrhoid.

Two over-the-counter medicines didn’t work. The pain was horrible and the area was both itchy and swollen. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I told my dad about my problem. He said that my grandpa used to apply Vicks VapoRub.

I could hardly believe this, but I figured what the heck. To my surprise, it worked. I feel so much better!

A. Vicks VapoRub is an unorthodox hemorrhoid remedy, but many readers agree with you that it can soothe pain and relieve itching. Others, however, have complained that it produces a feeling of spontaneous combustion in the nether region. One reader described his butt discomfort this way: “Mayday, tail on fire!

As a result of such comments we have discouraged use of Vicks on that area of the anatomy. The makers of VapoRub state quite clearly that it is “for external use only” and should not be used “on wounds or damaged skin.”

Here is another story from a reader who disagrees:

Q. 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.

A. We have been surprised at the number of people who report benefit from Vicks VapoRub on hemorrhoids:

“Tried Vick’s vaporub as haemorrhoid remedy It worked immediately, effectively and without pain.”

A.H.

“OMG…Vicks is brilliant. It shrinks them too. A star all the way!”

Tracey

“Vicks is great for hemmies. Granted if you are extremely sensitive I would avoid it but if you aren’t and are looking for relief it’s a must.”

B.G.

“I have had hemorrhoids for 40 years. About 35 years ago, while living in England, I was able to treat them with an ointment I found that was sold there. I brought some back to the U.S., but could never find it here. The two principal ingredients listed on the tube were camphor and menthol.

“I now use Vicks VapoRub. Regular use relieves the itching as well as the swelling for me.”

Bill

“I’ve used Vicks since childhood and recently carried it on my backpacking journey across the world. As I recall Vicks was available in most countries. It works on bug bites, some fungus infections, hemorrhoids, ‘dings & nicks’ and as a chest rub. I wouldn’t be without it – ever!

Regards, Bob

We grant you that such testimonials are compelling. But there is a dissenting viewpoint. It is the one expressed by John Welter, writing in the Durham Herald-Sun, March 24, 2001:

“…in a clinical setting where no one could see me, I scientifically applied a sufficient amount of VapoRub to the inflamed area and waited for results. I’d like to report to Joe Graedon that almost immediately, I could breathe better. In an essay I’m writing for The New England Journal of Medicine, I state that: ‘After applying VapoRub to the hemorrhoids, I had no respiratory problems in my pants.’

“What really happened is that the active ingredients in VapoRub–which I think are menthol, camphor and napalm–instantly engulfed my hemorrhoidal locality in spontaneous combustion. The warmth of VapoRub on a congested chest might be comforting; applying it to the most sensitive escape route in the human abdomen made me imagine I was a jet fighter with afterburners. I moved distractedly through the house like an F-15 pilot saying: ‘Mayday! Mayday! I took a direct hit to my tail section! Eject! Eject! There’s a fire in my cockpit!’ Well, not the cockpit, really. I forget the military term for butt.

“The use of VapoRub for hemorrhoids was supposed to be a home remedy, although obviously it has military applications… I must politely report to Joe Graedon that while it’s possible that a few people might benefit from VapoRub on their hemorrhoids, I think most people will respond with such well-known expressions as, ‘Shots fired! Officer down! We have casualties!'”

We would love to hear about your hemorrhoid treatments. Please comment below. If you find such stories interesting, you will find our eGuide to Favorite Home Remedies a must have. You will find it in our Health eGuides Section.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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