Vicks VapoRub is a bit of an institution as far as over-the-counter medicine is considered, perhaps because it functions so differently from other types of nonprescription treatments. Whereas medicine these days is usually contained in pills or effervescent tablets, Vicks treats your ailments with vapors. Camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol, the three most important ingredients in Vicks, relieve congestion and coughing when breathed in. The product also works as a good topical analgesic for other issues.
All of this is fairly common knowledge, but did you know about Vicks' other useful properties? There are plenty of home remedies out there for different kinds of issues that involve the fresh, strong-smelling ointment. Here are a few of them:
Soothes headaches, muscle aches, and earaches
For standard headaches, apple some Vicks to your temples for quick pain relief. If you're suffering from a sinus headache instead, try putting ointment under your nose and breathing in slowly and deeply.
Many people don't know that dandruff is usually caused by an excess of fungus called malassezia, and the antifungal properties of Vicks VapoRub can combat this and stop the scalp from flaking.
Treats toenail fungus
Foot ailments are the worst. Luckily VapoRub can help.
Soothing cracked heels
Sick of the dry, hardened skin on your heels? Try spreading a generous layer of Vicks VapoRub on your heels and covering your feet with socks. It's best to do this overnight; you can wash it off in the morning. (The upshot is that you'll sleep well. The salve on your feet will also soothe any lingering cough you might have!) Try also exfoliating the softened skin every day — a pumice stone works well — and repeating the treatment until the skin is softer. This also works on other areas prone to dry, tough skin, such as the elbows.
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Reducing stretch marks
Many people attest to the effectiveness of Vicks VapoRub in reducing the appearance of their stretch marks. Apply a layer of Vicks VapoRub and then covering it with plastic wrap and/or a tight pair of leggings to ensure full absorption. Although unproven, the combination of oils, petrolatum, and camphor are said to make skin feel softer and reduce the dryness that can make stretch marks stand out. It can be used as a preventative measure, too, with the moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties of the salve keeping the skin soft and supple.
Sufferers of hemorrhoids can find temporary relief from the pain and itchiness by applying a small amount of Vicks VapoRub to the affected area. It will reduce the swelling and have a pleasant cooling sensation. They warn that it may sting or burn a little at first, so proceed with caution, and only use it externally.
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Repel bugs and keep animals at bay
If you don't want bugs or other critters to bug you, VapoRub can help. Insects aren't the only things that are deterred by the smell. So are many domestic pets, such as cats and dogs. If your pets are urinating inside or scratching the furniture, you can leave an open jar of Vicks in the area to deter them.
Heal bruises and minor cuts
Bruises are simply blood under the skin, and as your body breaks down the red blood cells and removes them, the bruise disappears. Medicinal turpentine has long been used as a topical application on bruises, and Vicks VapoRub contains turpentine oil. Be careful not to use it on broken skin, though.