coughing and Vicks vapor — The Bump
Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

coughing and Vicks vapor

I recently read a post where someone suggested putting Vick's on your child's feet. Can you just explain the reasoning? Is it so that they can still smell it but its not close to their face?
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Re: coughing and Vicks vapor

  • Ive heard that Vicks actually inflames the airways when applied so close. It apparantley produces more mucus in children. Thats what Ive read anyway. Also Ive heard that thats why you should apply it to the feet since it is farther away. Mothers swear by it. I myself have never tried it. Ive only used the vicks baby rub and I placed it on DS's chest. This was before I heard of putting it on his feet. I think the ingredients in regular Vicks and Baby Vicks is different though so maybe it just depends on which one u use.
  • No idea why it works, but it does.  We put it on her feet and her chest.  We use regular Vicks here (well, Walmart brand I think).
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  • From what I understand, it's better absorbed through the feet, so it's more effective. It works though. Whenever lil miss does have a cough, it helps her sleep.
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  • For whatever reason, it does absorb better into the feet. My stepmother is an aromatherapist and swears by it, even for adults. It's definitely a side benefit that the feet are far enough from the face. You really don't want any of it in LO's eyes. I love the Vicks Baby Rub. It's not actually medicated, so we use it for so many reasons. If she's having a hard time falling asleep, absolutely when she's sick (even just runny nose/congestion), if she wakes in the middle of the night (nightmare? who knows) it really helps her calm back down and sleep quickly. I usually do rub a tiny bit on her chest just so she can smell it, but the feet are the important part.
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  • I don't know what it works but it definitely helps. We only use the baby vicks though.

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  • image Mountaineers:
    Ive heard that Vicks actually inflames the airways when applied so close. It apparantley produces more mucus in children. Thats what Ive read anyway. Also Ive heard that thats why you should apply it to the feet since it is farther away. Mothers swear by it. I myself have never tried it. Ive only used the vicks baby rub and I placed it on DS's chest. This was before I heard of putting it on his feet. I think the ingredients in regular Vicks and Baby Vicks is different though so maybe it just depends on which one u use.

    this has been my reasoning.  I have done the "feet" trick and it seems to work quite well.

    The other thing I will do is have a humidifer in the room and dab a bit of the ointment on a wet wipe and place it near the "fan" so it's blowing vapors. 

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  • I am not sure of the reasoning, TBH. Its an old wives tale that has been a miracle for me when I am sick. So, I applied it for DD and covered with socks. It works, and I'm not sure why.

    When I was consulting Dr. Google (take it with a grain of salt). I found a site about urban legends and a Doctor said, ""From the standpoint of traditional medicine," says pediatrician Vincent Iannelli, MD, "there is no good reason that rubbing Vicks VapoRub on a child's feet should help a cough. In fact, many studies show that over-the-counter cough medicines don't even help when you use them as they are intended.

    "Why might it work?" he continues. "It could be that your child can still breathe the vapors, even if you put it on their feet. Or maybe the active ingredient, menthol, acts to dilate the blood vessels in the feet, and this triggers some reflex that quiets the cough. There are other reflexes that cause coughs, like we often see when we clean wax out of children's ears, so it is not unthinkable that there are others."


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  • Vicks Vapor rub contains menthol and eucalyptus extract. Eucalyptus has anti-inflammatory properties, if I remember right. You can achieve the same results by using essential oils of eucalyptus and spearmint, without any additional yucky ingredients.
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