Drugs Q & A

Dangers Of Using Vicks VapoRub On Your Feets

Nail fungus, also called onychomycosis is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. When fungus infects the areas between your toes and the skin of your feet, it’s called athlete’s foot (tinea pedis).

As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. It can affect several nails. Onychomycosis occurs in 10% of the general population, 20% of persons older than 60 years, and 50% of those older than 70 years. It is caused by a variety of organisms, but most cases are caused by dermatophytes.

If your condition is mild and not bothering you, you may not need treatment. If your nail fungus is painful and has caused thickened nails, self-care steps and medications may help. But even if treatment is successful, nail fungus often comes back.

vicks vaporub

What is Vicks VapoRub?

Vicks VapoRub is a topical medication topical that emits medicated vapors. It is used to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains of muscles and joints. It is also used to temporarily relieve cough due to minor throat and bronchial irritation associated with the common cold. It starts working quickly for adults to relieve symptoms.

The active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub Topical are as follows:

Regular: Camphor (synthetic) 4.8% (Cough suppressant and topical analgesic) Eucalyptus oil 1.2% (Cough suppressant) Menthol 2.6% (Cough suppressant and topical analgesic)

Lemon: Camphor (synthetic) 4.7% (Cough suppressant and topical analgesic) Eucalyptus oil 1.2% (Cough suppressant) Menthol 2.6% (Cough suppressant and topical analgesic)

How to use Vicks VapoRub

For cough suppression, rub a thick layer of Vicks VapoRub on your chest and throat. Cover with a warm, dry cloth, if desired. Keep clothing loose about your throat and chest to help the vapors to reach the nose and mouth. For muscle and joint aches and pains, apply Vicks VapoRub onto the affected area not more than 3 to 4 times daily.

Can I use Vicks VapoRub for Nail fungus (onychomycosis)?

Yes, anecdotal reports suggest that many people use Vicks VapoRub on their feet to treat nail fungus and other fungal infections of the leg including athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). The antifungal properties of camphor one of the key ingredients in Vicks Vaporub make it beneficial in treating toenail fungus. A 2011 study reported that using Vicks VapoRub, which contains camphor as well as menthol and eucalyptus oil, was effective in treating toenail fungus.

Reports suggest people also use Vicks VapoRub on feet with socks for calluses, a thick, hardened layer of skin that develop when the skin tries to protect itself against friction or pressure. They often form on feet and toes or hands and fingers. Most people who use Vicks VapoRub on their feet apply it at night.

What are the dangers of using Vicks Vaporub on the feet?

When Vicks Vaporub is rubbed on the feet or toes, it can sometimes cause skin redness and irritation. Blue discoloration of the skin is also one of the most common side effects of using this Vicks Vaporub on the feet. Some oils, including eucalyptus oil, are photosensitive and phototoxic and can cause a serious reaction on the skin. The discoloration can be blue, and pale and can cause redness as well.

Studies have shown that Vicks VapoRub helps relieve cough, congestion, and sore muscles. It hasn’t been proven safe for other off-label purposes such as toenail fungus. Although Vicks VapoRub may cause side effects like skin irritation and respiratory distress, but these are rare.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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