Can You Use Vicks To Get Rid Of Acne?

First thing in the morning, you notice a glaring red bump on your face and panic sets in as you check for treatment in the house. After searching, you realize you don't have any acne medication. Then you remember that someone told you Vicks can be used in a squeeze, but can it?

Acne is common, but that doesn't make it any less painful or embarrassing to deal with (per Mayo Clinic). It usually appears as lumps, bumps, pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the skin, often with pus underneath. It can be seen on the chest, upper back, face, and forehead, where most oil glands are located.

Oftentimes, the skin condition is caused by a clogged hair follicle, inflammation, excess oil, or bacteria. The resulting appearance of acne on the skin will differ based on which of these is causing the blockage, bulging, or inflammation. While these blockages or excess oil buildups may occur naturally, several triggers can increase their risk of developing. The most common outside triggers that cause or worsen acne are stress, hormonal changes, like puberty, diets heavy in carbs, and side effects from prescribed medications. It often pops up at the most inopportune time, such as the morning of school pictures, so when it comes to treatment, we look for an easy fix.

How the ingredients in Vicks affect acne

Vicks VapoRub is a topical product rubbed into the skin to help relieve cough, bronchial irritation, and muscle and joint pains (per Vicks). The three main ingredients are camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol, but what do they do for acne? Camphor originally comes from camphor tree wood but is synthetic in Vicks and relieves feelings of pain and itching by stimulating the nerves (via WebMD). Eucalyptus oil is anti-inflammatory, which works well against Propionibacterium acne, a bacteria responsible for pimples, according to Healthline. Menthol is a chemical in mint that can relieve aches and pains by cooling and warming the skin while also soothing irritation (per BoomBoom).

Unfortunately, when it comes to treating acne, the effectiveness of Vicks VapoRub comes into question. Menthol can relieve pain, such as that with a pimple. However, its cooling and warming effect could also "irritate sensitive acne- and rosacea-prone skin," board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, told Healthline. The other major issue is that the delivery agent of the ingredients in Vicks is petroleum jelly, shares Healthline. Applying a thick, greasy substance, such as jelly, to the skin can make acne worse.

Eucalyptus oil and camphor do show some promise in relieving acne, but alongside the other ingredients in Vicks, they don't seem practical or worth the risk. So, while you could use Vicks as a last resort, it's better to isolate camphor and eucalyptus oil or just stick to other acne-specific medications.