Pros: Cheap, safe, effective way to ease coughs and congestion
Cons: Very strong medicinal odor
I remember being a young child with a cold and having my mother rub VICKS onto my chest. I felt the comfort from both my mom's loving caresses and from the vapors of VICKS. I would usually fall asleep in her arms after a few minutes of this treatment.
When my children were young, I'd do the same for them. VICKS is a safe wonderful way to soothe stuffy heads and chests. It does not cure whatever is causing these problems but it does minimize the symptoms. There were many nights when one of my children had bronchitis or a congested head and they could not sleep. So, I'd lie them on the bed or couch, rub VICKS onto their chest, and continue rubbing it until they fell asleep. One does not have to rub it in for more than a minute or so; I just felt that the additional caresses were very soothing to my children.
WHAT EXACTLY IS VICKS VAPORUB?
The active ingredients in VICKS are Camphor (4.8%), Eucalyptus oil (1.2%), and Menthol (2.6%). Camphor and menthol are a cough suppressants, decongestants, and analgesics. Eucalyptus oil is a cough suppressant and decongestant. These active ingredients are in a glycerin-like base that allows for smooth spreading over one's skin.
HOW IS VICKS USED?
VICKS is for external use only. One must be very careful not to get it into one's eye or nose. For nasal and chest congestion, it is recommended that you rub a small amount of VICKS onto your chest. You want to apply enough so that there is a thin layer of it on your chest. The clothing placed over that area should be loose so that the vapors can rise up toward one's face.
VICKS is good for temporary relief of muscle aches and pains. For this use, rub some on the VICKS into the skin over that area. The analgesic properties (somehow) tend to relieve certain muscle aches and pains. I have not tried this so I cannot vouch for how effective this treatment is. However, it sure would not hurt anything to try it.
Some people place a little VICKS underneath their nose to ease nasal congestion. We, however, have found that VICKS can readily irritate the delicate tissues under the nose. It actually burned like mad when I last did this. The area under the nose the area that tends to get red when one has a cold, especially if one's nose is running. So, I don't recommend placing it on that area. However, I have found that if I place a little VICKS on the upper part of the tip of nose, no irritation exists and I get the full benefit of VICKS. If I am at home, I tend to use VICKS on my chest. However, since the odor is VERY strong, when I am away from home (if I use it at all then), I will just dab some on the top of my nose.
We have used VICKS three other ways also. First, I have put it into the bathtub while filling it with HOT water (add the cold water after the VICKS melts and the vapors begin). Sitting in a tub (or even just sitting in the bathroom) with VICKS steam is very soothing. Also, many vaporizers have a little place to put medication. You can put VICKS into that area. Don't put VICKS into the water, though, or you may damage the vaporizer. Lastly, I have put VICKS into one of those small potpourri crockpots.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL RISKS WITH USING VICKS
The risks associated with using VICKS are much less severe than the risks with any drug that one ingests. There are only two risks I can foresee with use of this product. First, sme people may develop some irritation of the skin. If your skin reacts negatively to the VICKS, try one of the other ways mentioned to use this product. Secondly, the odor may drive you or others crazy. The odor is a very strong medicinal odor which most people can recognize. If one person has it on their chest, the smell will permeate the entire room (and perhaps even further away). I don't really mind the odor but I sure can't say that I like it either. I really can't imagine there being any other risks with this product. It has been around for so long that I am sure it would have been taken off of the market years ago if there were other problems associated with it.
I'd have to say, though, that when I have a severe cold, this product does not totally relieve all symptoms. It, however, does make me feel more comfortable. Using it usually reduces the amount of other cold remedies I have to take. With this in mind, I strongly believe that VICKS has been very beneficial for me.
One jar of it lasts forever. The jar I currently have, I purchased about 4 years ago and the product still works well. I would recommend that it be stored in a cool environment since this product will readily melt if exposed to any temperature above typical room temperature. We put ours in the refrigerator during the summer.