The Vicks® VapoRub™ Product and Warfarin

Publication Date: 
By: Alere Staff

When you are suffering from a cold or cough, even finding a small bit of relief can be helpful. A product that has been used for easing a cough is the Vicks® VapoRub product. Per the product website, the Vicks® VapoRub product is intended to temporarily relieve cough due to minor throat and bronchial irritation associated with the common cold.1 The rub can even be used on muscles and joints to relieve small aches and pains. As a patient on warfarin, you may already be aware that over-the-counter creams for joint pain may interact with warfarin. You may also wonder if the Vicks® VapoRubproduct interacts as well.

The Vicks® VapoRub rub has existed since around 1905. At the time it was called Vick’s Magic Croup Salve and it was marketed by a North Carolina pharmacist, the rub growing in popularity during the 1918 flu epidemic.2 Over 100 years later, people are still using the product with the current formula containing the three main active ingredients: camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol.1 At one point, people were concerned with products, like the Vicks® VapoRub rub, that contain camphor. In 1983, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced that products that were not ingested could contain less than 11 percent concentration of camphor. The Vicks® VapoRub product contains less than 4.8%.2

When using for cough suppression and relief, it is advised to rub a thick layer on your chest and throat. Make sure to keep clothing loose so the medicated vapors can enter both your nose and mouth, soothing the throat and bronchial irritation.1 While there is no real science that will back up the claim that the rub makes it easier to breathe, some studies show that menthol can trigger receptors that make the brain believe that your nose is more open.2 Others have said that putting the rub under your nose can make it harder to breath, but both the product packaging and the website state not to put the product under the nose.1,2

At this time, there are no known drug interactions between the Vicks® VapoRub rub, including no known interaction with warfarin.3 Whether or not you intend to use the rub for your cold or for your achy muscles, it is always a good practice to let your physician know what over-the-counter products you are using or intend to use. It is also important to follow labels provided with over-the-counter medicines and products.

References:

  1. Procter & Gamble. Vicks Vaporub FAQ. Vicks.com. 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017 from the website: http://vicks.com/en-us/safety-and-faqs/faqs/vicks-vaporub-faq.
  2. Vann, M.R., MPH. The Vicks VapoRub Debate. Everydayhealth. August 27, 2009. Retrieved from the website: http://www.everydayhealth.com/cold-flu/vicks-vaporub-debate.aspx.
  3. Drugs.com. Vicks VapoRub (camphor/eucalyptus/menthol topical) Drug Interactions. March 1, 2017. Retrieved from the website: https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/camphor-eucalyptus-menthol-topical,vicks-vaporub.html.

Vicks and VapoRub are trademarks of Procter & Gamble. Alere is not affiliated or associated with Procter & Gamble or the Vicks and VapoRub trademarks.