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Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nasal-decongestant/AN01551
- With Mayo Clinic emeritus consultant
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.Jay Hoecker, M.D.
Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, brings valuable expertise to health information content on primary care pediatrics. He has a particular interest in infectious diseases of children.
He's a Fort Worth, Texas, native, certified as a pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was trained at Washington University's St. Louis Children's Hospital, and in infectious diseases at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He has been with Mayo Clinic since 1989.
"The World Wide Web is revolutionizing the availability and distribution of information, including health information about children and families," Dr. Hoecker says. "The evolution of the Web has included greater safety, privacy and accuracy over time, making the quality and access to children's health information immediate, practical and useful. I am happy to be a part of this service to patients from a trusted name in medicine, to use and foster all the good the Web has to offer children and their families."
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Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
When I had a cold as a child, my mother put a little Vicks VapoRub under my nose to help me breathe more easily. Does this really work?
from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
Vicks VapoRub doesn't relieve nasal congestion. But the strong menthol odor of VapoRub tricks your brain. As a result, you feel like you're breathing through an unclogged nose. By contrast, decongestant tablets and nasal sprays sold over-the-counter appear to narrow blood vessels in the lining of your nose, leading to reduced swelling in your nasal passages.
VapoRub has drawbacks other than its ineffectiveness as a nasal decongestant. It's unsafe for any use in children under 2 years of age.
Swallowing a few teaspoons of camphor — one of the main ingredients in VapoRub and other topical medications, such as Campho-Phenique and Bengay — can cause fatal poisoning in toddlers. Topical camphor absorbed through mucous membranes or broken skin also can be toxic. That's why you should never put VapoRub in or around the nostrils — particularly a small child's nostrils. Finally, if VapoRub gets in your eye, it can injure your cornea.Next question
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- VapoRub topical ointment product information. Vicks Care Center. http://www.vicks.com/products/vapo-family/vaporub-topical-ointment/?gclid=CJ7jzcDrnqcCFYcm3wodTBOVeA. Accessed Feb. 11, 2011.
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- Pediatric poisoning. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter. 2011;27:Detail-Document 270210. http://www.pharmacistletter.com. Accessed Feb. 21, 2011.