Is Vicks Safe During Pregnancy?

Vicks Products May Be Used as Directed During Pregnancy

Catching a cold or suffering through seasonal allergies is uncomfortable at the best of times, but when you're pregnant, the discomfort is magnified by your need to be careful of the medications you take. Many standard prescription and over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines cross the placenta, making them unsafe for your baby. Fortunately, the active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub are both effective and safe when used as suggested.

Active Ingredients

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The active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub are also what give the ointment its signature scent: camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol. Its distinctive smell is similar to mint, and it has a unique skin-feel. The vapors from these ingredients are effective in clearing up a stuffy nose, drying up a runny one, soothing muscle aches, and easing both chest congestion and a cough. The inactive ingredients are cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, turpentine oil and thymol, all of which are present in small enough amounts that they pose no danger to you or your growing baby.

Camphor Concerns

Because Vicks VapoRub contains camphor, it's believed by certain non-medical groups to pose a danger to pregnant women and unborn babies. This is largely due to a misunderstanding of the science involved. Camphor can cause miscarriage when ingested on its own, but swallowing Vicks VapoRub in any form is not one of its normal or desired uses. Also, the amount of camphor mixed in with the other ingredients in the dollop of Vicks you would use on your chest, throat or beneath your nostrils is too small to cause any problems.

Safe Uses

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Vicks VapoRub can be applied lightly to the chest and back to help ease lung congestion and calm a cough. Place a warm, dry cloth over the area to keep the active ingredients from evaporating too quickly. Wear loose clothing such as an oversized T-shirt or a comfortable pajama top or nightgown to allow the vapors to escape so that you can breathe them in. Clear stuffy sinuses either by applying a bit of Vicks to a clean handkerchief or dishcloth and gently breathing it in through your nose. You can also use Vicks in a vaporizer specifically designed for it to help moisten and clear up blocked sinuses.


Do not use Vicks on children under the age of 2, and never heat it outside of a vaporizer because it can splatter and burn you.