Does rubbing a generous amount of Vicks VapoRub on feet and covering them with socks minimize coughing? No, that's not true: There is no evidence that using Vicks VapoRub on the feet will stop a cough. The company says it should be used as a topical cough suppressant on the chest and throat.
The claim appeared in a Facebook post on May 3, 2022. It opened:
SORE THROAT - rub on throat and wrap with a man's sock.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon May 9 23:38:49 2022 UTC)
The image posted on Facebook has a list of 12 ways to use Vicks VapoRub to cure common ailments from acne to nail fungus to sore muscles and other aches and pains. This story is only focusing on the third claim on the list:
COUGHS- Rub generously on feet and cover with socks to help minimize coughing.
Proctor & Gamble, the Vicks VapoRub parent company, does not support treating a cough in this manner:
"At P&G, consumer safety is our number one priority, and we do not endorse any inappropriate use of our product," a Proctor & Gamble spokesperson emailed Lead Stories on May 9, 2022. She explained the only method of use the company endorses:
The only approved and on-label uses of Vicks VapoRub are:
(1) As a topical cough suppressant, for adults and children aged 2 and over, to temporarily relieve cough due to minor throat and bronchial irritation associated with the common cold. For cough suppression, rub a thick layer of Vicks VapoRub on your chest and throat. Cover with a warm, dry cloth if desired. Keep clothing around your throat and chest loose to allow the vapors to reach the nose and mouth. Repeat up to 3 times in 24 hours or as directed by your doctor
(2) To temporarily relieve minor aches and pains on muscles and joints. For muscle and joint pain, rub Vicks VapoRub onto the affected area no more than three to four times daily.
For additional information, we encourage people to visit https://vicks.com/en-us/safety-and-faqs/faqs/vicks-vaporub-faq.
The Vicks website details how VapoRub works:
A: Vicks VapoRub contains medicated vapors that enter the nose and mouth. The powerful long-lasting vapors start working in minutes to soothe coughs for easier breathing.
The website also lists its active and inactive ingredients:
Camphor (a cough suppressant and topical analgesic)
Eucalyptus oil (a cough suppressant)
Menthol (a cough suppressant and topical analgesic)