Stuffy Nose - Use Vicks on Feet?

Updated on November 26, 2007
T.P. asks from Saratoga Springs, UT
12 answers

I recently read a post from a mother who had a 7 month old with a stuffy nose. Several people responded to use Vicks on the feet. Sounds goofy to me but I decided to try it. My 8 month old stopped sleeping through the night about 2 weeks ago when he developed a cold. Last night we put Vicks on his feet & he SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!

I'm just curious as to why this works. I've heard of putting it on the chest but why feet??? Does anyone know?

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone who responded. A few of you made me think twice & I decided to call my pediatrician. He said to STOP immediately. He said there is not enough research on it (including Baby Vicks)& it's best to stick with a humidifier in his room & saline solution in the nose. So, as of today I will stop using it but I still have to say that it's worked really well for the past 3 nights.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

I tried it with my 3yr old after reading those same postings. It worked, but she seemed almost drugged by it. It concerns me that the bottom of the feet might be too absorbent for small children. My husband pointed out to me that he heard years ago of some older kids putting ben-gay on their soles to get high because it gets into the system fast and strong. That really concerns me and I don't think that I'll be using it on the feet again. Yes, it stopped the cough, but I don't think it's safe. I think I'll just be putting alittle on her chest from now on. Just my personal opinion, I know other people swear by it.

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answers from Green Bay on

here's the article my aunt sent me... i've tried it on my 2 yo and my mom has used it successfully too! ~m

I wish I'd known this when my family was young during winter colds and coughs. I am going to try it myself. Share with young parents.

Isn't life strange. When we had a lecture on Essential Oils, they told us how the foot soles can absorb oils. Their example: Put garlic on your feet and within 20 minutes you can 'taste' it.

Some of us have used Vicks Vaporub for years for everything from chapped lips to sore toes and many body parts in between. But I've never heard of this. And don't laugh, it works 100% of the time although the scientists at the Canada Research Council (who discovered it) aren't
sure why.

To stop night time coughing in a child (or adult as we found out personally), put Vicks Vaporub generously on the bottom of the feet at bedtime, then cover with socks. Even persistent, heavy, deep coughing will stop in about 5 minutes and stay stopped for many, many hours of relief. Works 100% of the time and is more effective in children than
even very strong prescription cough medicines. In addition it is extremely soothing and comforting and they will sleep soundly. I heard the head of the Canada Research Council describe these findings on the part of their scientists when they were investigating the effectiveness and usage of prescription cough medicines in children as compared to
alternative therapies like acupressure.

Just happened to tune in A.M.Radio and picked up this guy talking about why cough medicines in kids often do more harm than good due to the chemical makeup of these strong drugs so, I listened. It was a surprise finding and found to be more effective than prescribed medicines for children at bedtime, in addition to have a soothing and calming effect
on sick children who then went on to sleep soundly. Polly tried it on herself when she had a very deep constant and persistent cough a few weeks ago and it worked 100%! She said that it felt like a warm blanket had enveloped her, coughing stopped in a few minutes and believe me, this was a deep, (incredibly annoying!) every few seconds uncontrollable cough, and she slept cough-free for hours every night that she used it.

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answers from Madison on

I was anxious to try this too, as my kids both had coughs and it worked for me as well. I forwarded this on to my friends to tell them it worked and this is what my friend the nurse had to say about it:

"The soles of your feet are the funnels for things to come in and toxins to come out. That is the science behind reflexology. I have used Eucalyptus essential oil for steam inhalation and foot massage on my son and it works wonders also."

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answers from Janesville-Beloit on

I recently read somewhere NOT to do this, unless you are using Baby Vicks, not the 'real' Vicks. I guess the amount of camphor or something in the full strength can be fatal to children. Please ask your doctor or pharmacist before trying this.

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answers from Omaha on

T. -
I too read this post and mentioned it the next day when I was getting a massage. My massage therapist also does reflexolgy (pressure points on feet affecting body parts). She said that this works because your toes are "attached" to your sinuses. She did give me a word of caution, as I joked that I may try this on myself and am pregnant - the mentholaum (sp?) can actually trigger premature labor so I can't use this and if I use it on my son I need to wash my hands right after applying it!

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answers from Kalamazoo on

I have read the same about giving herbal extracts and aromatherapy oils to babies--you should massage it into the soles of their feet. There are many reflexology points in our feet, and babies' feet haven't been caloused yet from walking like ours have, so they're even more sensitive. Plus, massaging babies' feet is very relaxing for them. I used to be able to put both my kids to sleep when they were little by massaging their foot, one at a time, while they were nursing. I'm glad it worked for you!


answers from Lansing on

I recently heard about that and my one co-worker swears it helps her kids. I've never tried it on my kids, but hey you never know.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Hey Tam,

Ok, so I looked this up on an urban legends site, 2 of them actually, and one of them said it was an urban legend, and one said "undecided". So, last night Ethan had a cough. Used it before bed, and he slept through the night..but his cough wasn't bad and he's generally a good sleeper, so who knows. Alex was congested, had a runny nose and a little cough. After getting up 8 times last night, by 6am I put some of the Vicks baby rub on his feet, and he was still up 3 times between 6am and 7am when he got up for the it didn't seem to work at all. So I am undecided. I do think that it's safer to use the Baby Vick's, and not the full strength, but I'm going to research that some more. I'm glad your Alex slept throught the night though! Yay! Email me soon...T



answers from Jackson on

probably the same reason why if you rub the sole of your foot with Garlic your breath smells like garlic.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I recently read that the human feet have hundreds of pores on them that have to do with so many other parts of your body. Example my husband has to sleep with socks on, nothing but underwear & sock, I guess his feet control his body temperature????



answers from Davenport on

The answer to your question no one knows. There has actually been one study done to see if this theory was true. It turn out that the kids that had vicks on their feet had the same outcome as kids that had it on their chest. So far, no other studies have been done. As far as the medical community is concerned....there is no proof it works better than putting it on your chest...there are a lot of moms that would disagree with that



answers from Benton Harbor on

My guess is that it's the same as putting it on their chest, but their bodies are much smaller than ours. If you put it on their chest it may be too strong. But if you put it on their feet, it's far enough away from their nose to not be too strong but it's also still within smelling distance.

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