Is It Safe To Use Vicks When Pregnant?

Sometimes there's just no avoiding a common cold, and reaching for a trusty cold and flu medication is second nature. But when you're pregnant, you might hesitate and wonder what's safe to use. Vick's VapoRub is one of those products that may make you question — is it safe to use while pregnant?

The strong-smelling ointment is a mix of camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus oil, used topically to treat cold symptoms like congestion and coughing, according to Healthline. It was created over 125 years ago by Lunsford Richardson, whose young son had a bad case of croup (via Vicks). He created the petroleum jelly-like salve that would release vapors when heated by the body, and his son soon recovered. Originally called Croup & Pneumonia Salve, it was later rebranded as Vicks VapoRub and now has a multitude of uses, though some are more evidence-based than others.

While it's often used to relieve congestion, ease coughing, and soothe sore muscles, there's anecdotal evidence that it might work for less common uses, like fading stretch marks and treating dry skin on the heels (via Healthline). There is even some evidence that it can help treat toenail fungus. It's also been said to work for repelling mosquitoes and relieving headaches, though more research is needed. 

But is it safe when you're expecting?

If you develop a cold or flu during pregnancy and want to reach for some Vicks VapoRub, don't worry — it's safe, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Along with some other over-the-counter remedies like Robitussin, Benadryl, and Tylenol, you can use Vicks at any point during pregnancy safely, when used according to the manufacturer's instructions.

However, there are a few warnings to keep in mind no matter when you're using Vicks, according to Healthline. Research shows that camphor, one of the active ingredients in Vicks, can be toxic. You should avoid putting it in or around your nose, as it can be absorbed through the mucus membranes easily. It should also not be used on children under the age of 2, as it's especially toxic for them. Camphor is also toxic to animals. Vicks should also never be used around the eyes, on open wounds, or under tight bandages. Never ingest it and never heat it before using it. Moreover, you should consult your doctor before using Vicks if your cough is chronic or has a lot of mucus.