When your child sniffles, it’s so easy to have something as handy as Vicks Vaporub. This menthol-scented, gooey substance has found its presence in almost every household across at least three generations. They swear by it when it comes to alleviating blocked nostrils.
Your little one could get desperate with choked nostrils and may find difficulty in breathing. This would prompt you to quickly rub some Vicks on her nose thinking it will unclog the airways. Even funnier – a few people apply this glob on their children’s feet and insulate them with socks! And guess what, all these parents claim it does wonders to that nasty cough their child has had. They say it is simple magic.
Magic, or a placebo effect, Vicks does give momentary relief. The eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor present in Vicks have a natural pungency that makes you think they unblock the nasal channels.
But how good is it applying to your newborn or infant child?
You can use Vicks BabyRub, which has milder ingredients, for infants aged three months or older. However, it doesn’t address any symptoms of cold and flu.
Vicks VapoRub is ideal only when your child is over the age of two. In fact, this is clearly mentioned on the label of VapoRub.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2010 says that Vicks Vaporub can relieve your child of the symptoms of cold in the upper respiratory tract and improve sleep, thanks to its ingredients. However, this benefit has been recommended only for kids over the age of two. Moreover, this study has made the sole basis for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to claim that applying Vicks to children’s chest area alleviates the symptoms of cold when compared to not indulging in a treatment or merely applying petroleum on kids.
However, a previous study published in the journal Chest in 2009 suggests that Vicks does not help your child in any way and that it could be dangerous for infants and children. The study suggests Vicks does not open the nasal airways but makes your brain think that it has cleared the congestion, by triggering menthol vapor cold receptors in the nose. In fact, Vicks VapoRub can cause inflammation of the airways and increase mucus production. Although the inflammation is not significantly high, in children who are under two, their airways are naturally small. The already inflamed airways due to infection are inflamed further due to Vicks, which produces mucus and narrows them severely and quickly.
With a scientific claim as this, you never want to take any risks when it comes to your little one. So you might want to consult your pediatrician for alternative means of easing your child’s nasal congestion.
If you are using Vicks VapoRub, take care while applying directly on your child’s nose because camphor could cause seizures or other side effects if your child accidentally ingests it.
Vicks also has different types of humidifiers and vaporizers, which can be used to release the scent of menthol to ease nasal congestion.
One must also bear in mind that Vicks VapoRub is the best when you use it with the recommended directions on the label.
Also, you could always use alternative means such as drinking hot fluids or using saline water to treat blocked nasal airways. If your child is struggling to breathe, take him to the doctor at once.