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Applying Vicks to your feet: Does it work?

Vicks VapoRub is a popular product which helps with cold symptoms. Vicks can be administered to the throat and chest to assist alleviate symptoms such as a blocked nose. Nevertheless, applying Vicks to the feet will have no effect whatsoever.

Vicks can be applied to other areas of the body, such as the feet, but it’s unclear if this helps with cold symptoms.

Keep on reading to learn more about using Vicks on the feet, how the product generally works, and some alternative options.

Does it work?

applying Vicks to the feet
There’s no clear evidence that applying Vicks to the feet helps with cold symptoms.

Applying Vicks to the feet will not have any impact on cold symptoms. There was no clear research into that, however.

Vicks ‘ potential benefits also come from inhaling the medication, so it has to be close to the nose. If Vicks ‘ feet are on, breathing in is normally too far away.

Vicks can also produce a feeling of cooling which can help with cold hot flushes. Vicks isn’t actually rising body temperature, however. It is therefore unclear if applying Vicks to the feet would have much of an effect on the body other than giving the feet a cooling sensation.

Many may use Vicks to relieve minor pain and aches in the muscles. It is likely that the application of Vicks to the feet in this region will help with these discomfort.

Note that Vicks doesn’t treat the triggers of a cold. While many people believe this drug offers temporary relief of the symptoms, there is little research on how effective it is in reducing any symptoms.

One study in the journal Pediatrics investigated Vicks ‘ impact in 138 children aged between 2 and 11. The researchers found that Vicks helped relieve symptoms at night compared to petroleum jelly or no medication at all, and thus improved sleep quality.

How does Vicks work?

Vicks contains three active ingredients that are responsible for its effects:

  • camphor 4.7%
  • eucalyptus oil 1.2%
  • menthol 2.6%

Camphor comes from Cinnamomum camphora trees wood, and is an ingredient in many oils and onions. One of its main features is to soothe nausea and coughing. It is also antispasmodic, thereby helping to relax muscles and relieve muscle aches.

Because of its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties many products contain eucalyptus oil. It can help clear the airways and ease the effects of the cold.

Menthol is one of the peppermint oil’s principal chemical components. It can act as a decongestant, as with eucalyptus.

These ingredients blend together to help with decongesture, cough and mild muscle aches and pains.

The majority of Vicks contain some inactive ingredients. Including:

  • cedarleaf oil
  • lemon fragrance
  • nutmeg oil
  • special petrolatum
  • thymol
  • turpentine oil

Such ingredients help to create certain Vicks qualities, such as its scent.

Vicks for babies

Vicks advises that children younger than 2 years do not use their rub items. Some of the products might be dangerous at Vicks. For instance, menthol may cause irritation to the skin.

This drug is best kept out of sight of any younger kids. This can have toxic effects if a kid swallows Vicks.

Alternative cold treatments

Although there is no cure for the common cold, there are many treatment options for its symptoms. Required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • resting as much as possible
  • getting plenty of fluids
  • using saline nasal sprays
  • breathing steam from hot water
  • using lozenges
  • taking honey-based drinks
  • using a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer

There are also several over- the-counter (OTC) drugs available to reduce the cold symptoms.

Decongestants, for example, can soothe stuffy and irritated noses. These can come in tablet form, a nasal spray, nasal droplets, or a syrup. Several OTC options are available, for instance pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and ipratropium bromide (Atrovent).

Other OTC medicines are dangerous for young children. Before using any drug, it is necessary to check with a doctor or read the label.


Vicks is a popular product for the treatment of cold symptoms, like a blocked nose. Putting Vicks on the feet is unlikely to help with cold symptoms although this part of the body may have a cooling effect.

There is little data on how well Vicks can cope with cold symptoms. Some studies suggest Vicks may help reduce cold symptoms in children at night, but more research is needed to validate this finding.

A cold can’t be cured, but after a few days, the symptoms will go away on their own. There are many different ways to reduce a cold’s effects, though they are not always successful for everyone.

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.

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