Vicks VapoRub

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A 50g Container of Vicks VapoRub Chest rub

Vicks VapoRub ointment is a mentholated topical cream manufactured by Vicks. VapoRub is indicated for use on the chest and throat for cough suppression due to the common cold or on muscles and joints for minor aches and pains. Users of VapoRub often apply it immediately prior to sleep. VapoRub is currently manufactured and packaged in India and Mexico. In the German speaking area (the exception of Switzerland) it is sold under the name Wick VapoRub.[1]

Safe use of VapoRub[edit]

Since the VapoRub ointment is an oil-based medication, it should not be used under or inside the nose or inside the mouth, and it should not be swallowed. Any oil-based product can get into the lungs if used improperly.[2]

In pre-clinical animal studies, the application of Vicks VapoRub directly on the trachea of ferrets caused an increase in mucus production compared to a water-based lubricant.[3] However, since the authors used a water-based and not oil-based compound as a control, it is not possible to ascertain which component of Vicks VapoRub caused the increased mucus production. Because Vicks VapoRub was also directly applied to the ferret trachea, it is also difficult to extrapolate the results from this study to comment on possible irritation arising from the safe use of Vicks VapoRub in humans.


Vaporub ad from 1922, showing the international ingredients, and the factory.

Lunsford Richardson developed the formula in 1894[4] when he created a salve for his children, after traveling to France.

A Penn State study showed Vicks VapoRub to be effective for helping cough and congestion, and helping children and even adults sleep.[5] Vicks VapoRub is an effective cough medicine for guinea pigs.[6]


Active Ingredients: Label reads: Special Vick medications (camphor, menthol, spirits of turpentine, eucalyptus oil, cedar leaf oil, myristica oil, thymol) compounded by the original Vick process VICK CHEMICAL COMPANY Div of Richardson-Merrell Inc[non-primary source needed]. It also contains Levomenthol 2.75% w/w camphor 5.00% w/w eucalyptus oil 1.50% w/w turpentine oil 5.00% w/w.

  • Camphor 4.8% (Cough suppressant and topical analgesic)
  • Eucalyptol 1.2% (Cough suppressant)
  • Menthol 2.6% (Cough suppressant and topical analgesic)

Inactive Ingredients


In India, Vicks VapoRub is made by Procter & Gamble. It is sold as an Ayurvedic medicine in India. The formulation is almost the same as the one stated above.

The ingredients (per 100 g of product) are stated as follows (English translations are not printed on the label):

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Vicks VapoRub Topical Ointment Children's Cough Medicine". Do not use: by mouth, with tight bandages, in nostrils, in wounds or damaged skin 
  3. ^ Abanses, Juan Carlos; Arima, Shinobu; Rubin, Bruce K. (January 2009). "Vicks VapoRub Induces Mucin Secretion, Decreases Ciliary Beat Frequency, and Increases Tracheal Mucus Transport in the Ferret Trachea". Chest 135 (1): 143–8. doi:10.1378/chest.08-0095. PMID 19136404. 
  4. ^ Schwarcz, Joe (2003). Dr. Joe & What You Didn't Know: 177 Fascinating Questions About the Chemistry of Everyday Life. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1550225778. 
  5. ^ Paul, Ian M.; Beiler, Jessica S.; King, Tonya S.; Clapp, Edelveis R.; Vallati, Julie; Berlin Jr, Cheston M. (2010-11-08). "Vapor Rub, Petrolatum, and No Treatment for Children With Nocturnal Cough and Cold Symptoms". Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  6. ^ Laude, E; Morice, AH; Grattan, TJ (1994). "The Antitussive Effects of Menthol, Camphor and Cineole in Conscious Guinea-pigs". Pulmonary Pharmacology 7 (3): 179–84. doi:10.1006/pulp.1994.1021. PMID 7827436. 

External links[edit]