I was quite surprised initially when I got to know that people do use Vicks Vaporub for psoriasis. They use it as a topical cream to calm down the itching sensations of psoriasis lesions. It’s cooling, soothing effect somewhat help them to get a nice sleep by subsiding the itching sensation. Some people have experienced reduction in scaling as well. But, symptoms return back if they stop applying Vicks.
Read more: How to relieve Psoriasis itching
Psoriasis is a gut related autoimmune disorder. Psoriasis lesions on your skin are just a reflection of the malfunctioning of your inner body organs. To bring significant improvement in your skin condition, you have to sort out the inner body metabolism related issues by adopting an Inside-out approach. People have achieved quite successful results by adopting a holistic healing strategy where they focus on inner body cleansing, strengthening of the digestive tract and off course, stress management.
A restrictive psoriasis diet, positive lifestyle, regular consumption of dietary supplements and herbs and finally, practicing stress relieving techniques such as Yoga, pranayam and meditation- everything helps here.
Read more: Dr Pagano Diet for Psoriasis
But, this is a gradual process and it would at least a few weeks to show some significant improvement. Hence, there is a need to identify safe and effective topical solutions (creams, oils, shampoos) to manage the external psoriasis lesions on day to day basis so that you can face the outer world with confidence.
Let us know Vicks VapoRub
Vicks VapoRub is a menthol based cream- to be applied on chest, throat and back for short term relief from cold and cough congestion. Generally, it is applied immediately before sleep to have a sound, trouble free sleep. When applied to muscles and joints, it provides temporary relief from minor muscles aches and pains as well.
Ingredients (According to the company’s website)
Vicks Vaporub contains a combination of essential oils with petroleum jelly as base.
All the ingredients are 100% natural.
Active ingredients (with approximate concentrations)
- Camphor – 4.8%
- Eucalyptus oil- 1.2%
- Menthol – 2.6%
Inactive ingredients (concentrations not defined)
- Essential oils (Cedar leaf oil, Nutmeg oil, Turpentine oil)
- Thymol (a derivative of thyme oil)
- Petrolatum (commonly known as petroleum jelly)
Generally, Vicks VapoRub comes in two varieties: Regular and Lemon flavor
Apart from all the ingredients of Regular variety, lemon flavor has a little of added lemon fragrance.
Vicks VapoRub for Psoriasis
Vicks VapoRub is sold as an analgesic topical balm to provide temporary relief from common cold, cough and muscle aches. But, due to the potent medicinal benefits of its active ingredients- Camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol and thymol- it is widely used to treat various day to day health issues such as:
- To treat toenail fungus
- As a bug (mosquito)
- To treat ringworm
- To provide relief from sinus headache
- To get rid of stinky feet
- To provide relief from itching and scratching related to eczema by reducing inflammation
- To ease stretch marks
- To treat acne
- To remove splinters
Camphor is a white colored waxy material with strong odor. It is used externally to treat cough, cold and various skin infections.
Eucalyptus essential oil is a potent anti-inflammatory oil, widely used in aromatherapy and topical medicines to treat bronchitis and other cold symptoms.
Thymol (the derivative of thyme oil) is a potent anti-microbial oil with Candida inhibiting properties. There are research studies to acknowledge its effectiveness.
In a research study published in the magazine Mycoses, Nov 2007 issue – Thyme essential oil has potent anti-microbial activity against Candida (yeast infection). It neutralizes Candida by disturbing its cell membranes and metabolism.
In another research study published in the magazine Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy, Dec 2008 issue – Thyme essential oil (1% concentration) was found quite effective in inhibiting the growth of fungi responsible for nail infection.
Menthol, when applied to the skin, activates the cold-sensitive receptors to generate a cooling effect. It provides a pain killer (analgesic) effect.
In short, the anti-inflammatory, antifungal and analgesic properties of various ingredients of Vicks VapoRub can help relieve psoriasis symptoms.
It is worth sharing here that there are no research studies to accept the benefits of Vicks VapoRub for psoriasis. But, user experiences of psoriatic people do promote Vicks as a handy home remedy for quick relief from psoriasis related itching and inflammation. If you are lucky, then it can reduce the scaling as well.
How to use
- Plaque Psoriasis
Apply Vicks VapoRub on affected body parts. Avoid sensitive body parts such as genitals, near the eyes, near the lips and under the nostrils. For best results, apply it after bathing so that the affected area is well cleaned and ready to respond to Vicks.
- Scalp Psoriasis
Just massage a thin layer of Vicks VapoRub on the affected part of your scalp and nearby areas (avoid the eyes). Put on a shower cap and leave it for overnight. Wash it off in the morning with a natural shampoo. Because of petroleum jelly, it would take some efforts to completely wash it off.
Read more: How to manage Scalp Psoriasis
- Nail Psoriasis
Trim your nail as short as possible. Then apply a good amount of Vicks VapoRub on the infected nail. Then apply a bandage (or put on socks) so that the medicine remains intact and works well. It would help to avoid the staining of bedding as well. Leave it for overnight and wash it off in the morning. You may need to repeat it on a daily basis for at least 3 to 6 weeks to get some visible improvement.
Vicks VapoRub and Tea Tree Oil make a good combination
To get enhanced results, you may mix a few drops- 3 to 4 drops- of Tea tree essential oil in Vicks and then apply on the affected area. Tea Tree oil is a proven powerful anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory essential oil. Being very strong in nature, don’t use more than a few drops of tea tree oil otherwise it can burn or irritate your skin.
Read more: Tea tree oil for Psoriasis
Precautionary Measures and Side Effects
Camphor, the chief ingredient of Vicks VapoRub is toxic in nature, when ingested. Internal consumption of camphor can prove fatal. In 1983, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set an upper limit of 11% for all camphor containing external therapeutic topical solutions (creams and oils). In this case, Vicks with 4.8% camphor is a safe bet.
I couldn’t find neither any research evidence nor any user experience explaining if long term use of Vicks Vaporub does have any side effects. But, you need to be cautious not to use Vicks on broken psoriasis lesions. The camphor can enter your blood stream through the broken psoriasis lesions to cause some serious issues.
If all the safety measures (mentioned on the outer labelling of Vicks VapoRub) are followed properly, Vicks VapoRub would seldom pose any side effects.
Let us repeat those safety instructions:
- Not to be used for the children 2 years and below
- It is an oil based formulation, strictly for external use.
- Not to be used on open wounds or cuts.
- Don’t use it around the eyes.
- Also, it should not be used inside or under the nose. By doing so, it can get into your lungs to obstruct the normal breathing process.
- Keep out of the reach of children
- Pregnant and nursing women should strictly consult a doctor before using it.
- Nursing (breast feeding) women should not use it on the chest because of the risk of getting into the baby’s mouth while feeding. Also, its strong odour can make breathing difficult for them.
Overuse (more than three times in a single day) may have one or more of the below side effects:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Vomiting, Nausea, Stomach pain
- Feeling thirsty
- Burning sensation
If you experience symptoms such as skin redness, rashes or burning sensation- stop using it and consult your doctor.
Store it at room temperature, away from direct heat or sunlight. Few of its ingredients, including the essential oils can be volatile in nature. Hence, don’t apply heat or microwave before use.
From where to buy
Vicks VapoRub is an easily available OTC (over-the-counter) drug. You can buy it from a store near to you otherwise get it from Amazon.
If you are from USA, click here to check
If you are from India, click here to check
If you are from UK, click here to check
Psoriasis is quite a frustrating life long skin condition. Presence of silvery white (and red) patches on various parts of the body can make a person highly conscious about his/her physical appearance. Skin dryness, inflammation and itching further makes the things worse. If itching is giving you sleepless nights and you are desperate to try anything to have some restful sleep, you can try Vicks VapoRub for psoriasis. If used with caution, Vicks seems to be a safe bet to manage physical symptoms of psoriasis. Avoid sensitive areas, open wounds and broken psoriasis lesions.
But, obviously, it is not a long term solution. Make positive changes in your diet and lifestyle and consume dietary supplements to get long term relief.