Vicks Vaporub For Acne: Does It Work?

Written by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

We have all been there. A Monday morning – and you see a pimple right on the middle of the forehead. There is no time for a lengthy remedy, and you need a quick fix. What do you do? Well, if online forums and personal blogs are to be believed, Vicks Vaporub is precisely what you need to treat acne fast. It is also advertised as an easy, cheap, at-home remedy for all your acne problems. But is Vicks VapoRub really the way to go for treating acne? Let us find out.

Does Vicks VapoRub Help Treat Acne And Spots?

Using Vicks VapoRub for acne might not be unheard of. But acne treatment is not among its primary uses. There is no scientific evidence to back any of the claims.

One of the ingredients of Vicks Vaporub, eucalyptus oil, helps treat various skin issues like abscesses, fungal infections, boils, and burns (1), (2). This has made many believe the product can treat acne as well.

However, the other ingredients in Vicks, like petroleum jelly, can have adverse effects on acne. While this has been overlooked, there are a few more ingredients in Vicks that are potentially beneficial for the skin.

Why Vicks VapoRub Is Thought To Treat Acne

People use Vicks VapoRub for its many other benefits – it helps relieve chest congestion, may relieve cough and cold, and helps heal general respiratory infections (3).

Proponents of Vicks as a treatment for acne suggest that applying generous amounts of the product on the face and letting it rest overnight can help reduce acne by the next morning. Others believe Vicks can be used as a substitute for regular face creams and must be applied daily in small amounts.

Following are the ingredients in Vicks that could have led people to propagate its purported anti-acne effects.

  • Camphor: Camphor is an ayurvedic ingredient often touted for its healing qualities in traditional Indian medicine. According to the International Journal of Science and Research, one can use camphor as an aphrodisiac, digestive aid, and to relieve sore and cramped muscles (the purpose Vicks VapoRub uses it for). While it may help treat acne when mixed with coconut or olive oils, the camphor in Vicks is not known to treat the skin condition (4).
  • Eucalyptus Oil: While people consider eucalyptus oil as a great essential oil, some studies favor it for acne treatment too. Eucalyptus oil might be helpful for acne (5). However, more research is warranted to further understand the anti-acne properties of the oil. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that eucalyptus oil may also irritate the skin.
  • Menthol: Menthol is known for its cleansing properties. It is also helpful for treating gastrointestinal and respiratory issues and strengthening the immune system. Several studies validate the efficacy of menthol in treating various issues (6). However, no research suggests that it can help treat acne.
  • Petrolatum: Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, is among the more popular home remedies for acne and other skin issues. People have successfully used it to revitalize their nails, strengthen their hair, and even take care of dry and chapped lips. While it is a convenient item to have around, the American Academy of Dermatology warns against using it for acne (7). It can clog pores and give you the illusion of glowing skin – but it can eventually make your skin break out.

Vicks VapoRub has certain drawbacks. We have listed them below.

The Drawbacks Of Vicks VapoRub

  • May Clog Pores: Anyone who puts Vicks VapoRub on the face can expect clogged pores. The process is called “slugging” and involves coating Vicks on acne and the entire face. This process can leave you with clogged pores and lead to further breakouts.
  • Could Be Dangerous For Toddlers: Rubbing Vicks on your babies’ chest or under their nostrils is not recommended. The product can cause inflammation and can also lead to long-term respiratory issues. Using Vicks is not recommended for anyone under two years of age.
  • May Irritate Broken Skin: Applying Vicks Vaporub on broken skin does not heal it as most think. It can instead cause irritation and inflammation.

Other Scientifically Proven Alternatives For Treating Acne

Alternatives like isotretinoin and azelaic acid may help treat acne (8). Salicyclic acid acts as a great peeling agent and offers relief from acne troubles (9).

Retinol, which is a keratolytic agent, exfoliates the face by dissolving the outermost dead layers of the skin (10). It is one of the best solutions for acne.

It is recommended that you start using these products under the supervision of a dermatologist. Start small and gradually increase the usage frequency.

Final Words

Vicks VapoRub does not help heal acne or pimples. There is no scientific evidence to back the claims. In fact, the other ingredients in the product can also possibly lead to additional skin issues.

If you have chronic acne, cystic acne, or pimples, the best course of action is consulting your local dermatologist or specialist for advice. Home-based remedies rarely work for anyone. Take the right information from an expert and follow the prescribed mode of treatment.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Where can I get Vicks VapoRub?

You can order Vicks VapoRub online or even purchase it from your nearest drugstore. It is also reasonably priced.

What are the other home remedies for acne?

Honey and lemon, tea tree oil, or apple cider vinegar are often considered effective home remedies for treating acne. However, it always is better to consult a doctor to understand the right mode of usage.

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the digital media field for over six years. He has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University. He considers himself a sculptor born to chip away at content and reveal its dormant splendor. He started his career as a research writer, primarily focusing on health and wellness, and has over 250 articles to his credit. Ravi believes in the great possibilities of abundant health with natural foods and organic supplements. Reading and theater are his other interests.