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Vicks on Soles of Feet Calmed Grandkids’ Coughs

You can ease grandkids' coughs at night by smearing Vicks on the soles of their feet at bedtime. This remedy works for grown-ups, too.
Cute little boy is coughing on gray background

When young children cough all night, they may not be awake themselves, but their parents and grandparents won’t be able to sleep well. Little ones don’t respond well to conventional cough medicines. What can you do to ease your grandkids’ coughs? One grandparent found an old-fashioned remedy worked surprisingly well.

Vicks on the Soles of the Feet for Grandkids’ Coughs:

Q. I just spent a week taking care of my two grandbabies, two and six years old. The littlest one had a horrible night cough.

After two sleepless nights listening to his coughing spasms, I rubbed his feet with Vicks VapoRub and put his little sockies on. He didn’t cough that night. We repeated this the following night, and he only had one little three-minute episode. He slept through all the coughing.

Then the six year old started coughing at night, so I did the same for him. No coughing. We all slept well thanks to Vicks.

A. We first heard about this home remedy from a nurse. She admitted that it sounded wacko, but it worked for her children. Since then, we have tried it ourselves and found it helpful. Many other readers also report success with this old-fashioned drugstore product.

Why Put Vicks on the Soles of the Feet?

Many people have heard of rubbing Vicks on the chest or back to calm kids’ or grandkids’ coughs. The soles of the feet may seem odd. We suspect, however, that the menthol, eucalyptol, camphor and thymol are stimulating sensory nerves on the soles of the feet. These connect to the spinal cord and may help calm the cough center at the base of the brain.

Learn More:

We offer many unique treatments for coughs, colds and other ailments in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You can also read about other solutions for grandkids’ coughs in our Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu.

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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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My daughter says i could be having a heart attack and I’d get the Vicks out.
I use It for everything…headaches,itchy skin, achey ears, and of course in my dry nose….I also used it on the soles of my kids feet when they had colds.
Don’t go any where without it.

I, too, use Vicks on the bottom of my feet anytime I start coughing. I sleep through the night without waking up coughing. It’s great!

I also did this with my kids, now 45 and 41. I also put it on their chests and under their noses. Worked every time. Do not go outside while the Vicks is on. I got all of these instructions from my parents. A lot of home remedies from them I used on my children. Unfortunately, my kids don’t think much of my home remedies.

There is one more remedy I got from my dad. For diaper rash or any kind of rash put warm water, as warm as is safe, in the tub. Add in a good handful of baking soda, stir around, and put child or adult in. They might cry at first but within minutes, sometimes seconds, depending how bad the rash is, the crying will stop. The next morning the rash will be almost gone or considerably better. Repeat until rash is gone. Now this was visible as proof. No medicine ever worked as well. Used cloth diapers and also put baking soda in the washing machine with the diapers.

I thought that a cough was a protective response and therefore would not encourage suppressing a cough that was not interfering with the child’s sleep.

I’ve used Vicks almost everywhere – on the feet (make sure you also go around the “toe posts,” and this will even help headaches). I even use on my pulse-spot on my wrists. It just seems to help.

Worst-case scenario, you will be softening the rough spots on heels, smoothing the skin. It’s petroleum based with menthol eucalyptus – good for you.

For young children, you have to be careful of using on the chest. I don’t remember why, but it can be dangerous to apply on too young a child. The feet are always a safe place for Vick’s VaopRub.

VICKS! Such relief for a wide range of issues: stuffy nostrils, pain anywhere on the body, any little scrape or graze where raw flesh not exposed.

Vicks on the soles of my feet at night works to stop a cough.

I have used this on nieces, nephews, grandkids, and myself with great success. I don’t know why it helps, but it does.

I use Vicks on the bottom of my feet to stop the burning of my feet from peripheral neuropathy.

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