10 Emergency Uses for Vicks Vapor Rub

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Written by Bernie Carr

When we were kids, my Mom always kept a bottle or two of Vicks Vapor Rub in our medicine cabinet. As soon as any of the kids got any hint of cold symptoms, she’d rub it all over our throat, chest, and back. It was warm and comforting, and did succeed in making us feel better. Many kids I know experienced the same thing.

If you don’t know what Vicks Vapor Rub is, here’s a quick introduction. Vicks Vapor Rub is a salve that contains ingredients such as camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus oil. The texture is similar to petroleum jelly. It is manufactured by Proctor and Gamble, and has been around for over 125 years. Vicks Vapor Rub was originally created by a pharmacist, Lunsford Richardson, in North Carolina, to help his son’s croup. It is normally used for relieving congestion, coughs, and colds.

But as it turns out, it can also have emergency uses that can come in handy in certain situations. Let’s look at some of these emergency uses.

Headache remedy

Feeling a sinus or migraine headache coming on? Just rub a small amount of Vicks Vapor rub on your temples. Make sure you avoid your eyes! I’ve accidentally gotten it on my eyes before and it is not pleasant.

Repel insects

The minty smell repels mosquitoes, and other flying insects. But if you already got stung, see the next tip.

Soothe an itch

Applying Vicks Vapor Rub on mosquito bites can help to relieve itching and reduce swelling. You can also use in on other minor itches to help you avoid scratching.

Freshen your feet

The menthol and eucalyptus oils will get rid of any foot odor. Apply before putting on socks.


Vicks Vapor Rub is known to help heal rough skin especially around the feet and heels, most likely because it contains petrolatum or petroleum jelly.

Treating minor burns

If you accidentally burn yourself, applying a thin layer of Vicks Vapor Rub on the affected area can provide relief from the pain and promote healing.

Protect small cuts

You can use Vicks to protect small cuts such as paper cuts and splinters to prevent infection.

Preventing nail fungus

Vicks Vapor Rub contains thymol, which has antifungal properties. Applying the ointment on the affected nails can help to prevent the growth of fungus.

Soothing sore muscles

My mom also used Vicks whenever she felt sore muscles. I think the warming effect is what helped. Just massage Vicks Vapor Rub on the sore area can help to reduce inflammation and provide relief from pain. It is important to remember that this is for minor aches only; if your muscle aches are not relieved, and lasts longer that three to four days, consult with a doctor.

Pet deterrent

If you don’t want your pet marking their territory or keep it away from certain areas, rub a bit of Vicks on the surface to discourage them. They dislike the smell. Be careful though, camphor is toxic to animals. Don’t apply it directly on your pet, and make sure your pet doesn’t lick or chew any part that has Vicks.

Hide unpleasant odors

Are you trying to avoid smelling something bad such as trash or cat litter odor? Dab a bit of Vick under your nosetrills (not inside) and it will hide whatever smell is bothering you.

Fix a squeaky door

If your door is squeaking as you open or close it, but you are out of WD-40, dab a bit of Vicks on the hinges and get rid of that annoying squeak.


Vicks is for external use only, it is not for ingesting. Keep it out of the reach of children. It is important to note that these are emergency uses, and Vicks Vapor Rub should not be used as a substitute for seeking medical treatment. If you have a serious medical condition or injury, you should see a medical professional right away.

  • Do not use it on open wounds.
  • Do not use it under tight bandages.
  • Do not use it on children under two years of age.
  • Do not warm it up before using, as it can cause burns.
  • Never eat or swallow Vicks.
  • Avoid placing it near your eyes as it can sting.
  • I’d also avoid using it to moisturize lips to avoid accidental ingestion.

For cold and congestion relief, along with its other uses, Vicks Vapor Rub deserves a spot in your emergency first aid kit.

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About the author

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.

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