12 surprising and unexpected uses of Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub is a staple in many homes and has been for over a century. It contains three key active ingredients: eucalyptus oil (a cough suppressant), camphor and menthol (both cough suppressants and topical analgesics). Inactive ingredients include cedar leaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol (an oil derived from the thyme herb) and turpentine oil. These natural medicines all have uses other than the traditional cough and cold relief, including the relief of pain and itching, as well as antifungal and antimicrobial properties.

Although Vicks VapoRub has traditionally been used topically to relieve coughs and muscle pains, the everyday user knows that there are far more ways to utilize the little blue jar found in bathroom cabinets across the world! From curing fungal nail infections and dandruff to house-training your pets, there are many ways to put this good old-fashioned salve to use.

1. 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!) Livestrongsuggests 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.

2. Healing toenail and fingernail fungus. According to Livestrong, a small clinical trial showed that Vicks VapoRub had a significant effect on the fungus found in many nail infections, with over 80 percent of participants recording either an improvement or cure during the trial period. Use a sterile pad or cotton ball to gently massage the salve into the affected nail and nail bed. Wear socks overnight, and apply twice a day until the fungus clears and the affected nail has grown out.

3. Reducing stretch marks. Many people attest to the effectiveness of Vicks VapoRub in reducing the appearance of their stretch marks. Health n Body Tips suggests applying 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 is 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.

4. Preventing infection. Even if they don’t bleed, little wounds such as paper cuts and splinters can easily get infected if not looked after well. Healthcare Online suggests dabbing a little Vicks VapoRub onto open wounds; the antibacterial properties will keep the wound clean.

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