How safe is vicks babyrub??

Heather - posted on 03/24/2009 ( 4 moms have responded )




My almost 7 month old woke with a cough today. Is not acting sick but defidently sounds congested. Iv'e heard bad stuff about vicks. Anyone have a remedy to help his cough?

I have the vaporizer on as well, which i feel does nothing!


Sophia - posted on 03/31/2015




Though this post is several years old, I just wanted to post this answer for other moms who are wondering about the same thing.

There was a study on VapoRub that showed in children under two years it was harmful, and potentially dangerous as it could cause airway restriction/inflammation. This is due to the camphor and menthol in the VapoRub

This does not apply to BabyRub, however, which is an unmedicated version. It does not have either camphor (which is highly toxic if ingested, especially for infants) or menthol (which is what causes the airway inflammation). It consists of petroleum jelly, herbal oils/extracts (eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary) and fragrance. According to the label, it is safe to use on infants 3 months and older. Use common sense and good judgement when applying it, do not use it on the face or mouth or nose. Rubbing it into the chest or back should be fine though.

Jennifer - posted on 03/24/2009




Depending on the cough, and being congested, I would say you at least need to call the pediatrician.  wet throaty coughs are very different then wet, wheezy coughs with retractions.

Keep up the vaporizer and for the nasal congestition, try some saline mist and suction.  That can help with the congestion. 

I saw something on CNN about Vicks and found this article in the LA Times.  Go out to internet and look up Vicks Vapor Rub saftey in children and read on.....

"Reporting in Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, the researchers said that using the ointment to ease coughing and congestion in children of this age might lead to severe breathing problems by increasing mucus production and inflammation.

The product's label cautions against using Vicks VapoRub on children under 2, but many parents do so anyway, putting their infants at risk, experts said.

"People don't read warnings on prescription medications, so to [read a warning for] a salve on the outside of the body that has been around for 100 years . . . I think it would be a rare parent who would do that," said lead author Dr. Bruce K. Rubin of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Vicks VapoRub, whose active ingredients are camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil, was first formulated in 1891 in Greensboro, N.C. National marketing began in 1905, and it gained great popularity during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

Several small studies have failed to show any medicinal benefit from the ointment, Rubin said. He suspects that the menthol in it binds to cold receptors in the throat, giving the impression that the patient is breathing more easily even when that is not the case.

The ointment's risks came to the attention of Rubin and his colleagues when they treated an otherwise healthy 18-month-old girl who was brought to the emergency room by her grandparents after her respiratory infection suddenly grew worse. Questioning revealed that the severe symptoms appeared shortly after they had put Vicks VapoRub under her nose.

The researchers were already using ferrets -- whose airway anatomy and cell lining are similar to humans -- to study infant respiratory problems. To look at the effect of Vicks, they applied the ointment directly to cultured ferret tracheal cells as well as under the noses of healthy ferrets and ferrets with tracheal inflammation similar to that of humans with a cold.

In the cultured cells, the ointment increased mucus secretion by 59%. It increased secretion by 14% in the airways of healthy animals and by 8% in those with inflamed airways."


 I hope this helps.


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Mary - posted on 03/24/2009




I heard that there is something in vicks vapor rub that cause the airways to close. Its no good. when my 19 mon old got a cold the doctor just suggested to use a humidifier in their room and as the one mom said sailine drops and a nose sucky to cleanout their nose so they can breath its the same for us colds will pass they even took all cough meds off the shelfs for children under 2 i hope this helps and i hope your lil one gets better soon oh and lots of water nothing beats a cold better then keeping hydrated.and lots of sleep. Goodluck.

Jennifer - posted on 03/24/2009




I also meant to add that I use the Little Colds Decongestant with Cough and their Multi symptom Medications. I have used it with all my kids..they are 4 1/2, 3 yo twins and a 10 month old. 

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