Friday, December 6, 2013

Vicks VapoRub on your feet?


 
The internet is a minefield.
It is a goldmine of valuable information.
Unfortunately, it also has the power to terrify unwitting folks who go online to look up symptoms or whatnot.
Most wise folks know enough to realize that the good information is muddled up with loads of crap. It is hard to know what is real.
Therefore, when I got an email several years ago touting the magic of applying Vicks VapoRub to your feet to stop a cough, I promptly dumped it into my spam.
Frankly anything that tells you that it works 100% of the time is 100% false (Have fun with that statement!)
But then a variation of the same email came to me again and I thought it might be fun to see if there was any merit to it.
The claim is that covering the soles of the feet with the VapoRub and then putting socks on is very helpful for coughs.
I am always looking for safe, natural remedies to help relieve symptoms of colds and coughs for my patients without loading them with systemic medications.
So, several winters ago I set out to do a completely unscientific study.
While talking to the hundreds of my Noe Valley Pediatric parents who were trying to relieve the coughs that were keeping their kids up at night I enlisted them to give the Vicks on the feet a try. I asked them to report back.
To my surprise, well more than 50% of the folks who tried this seemed to find that it was quite helpful....imagine that! Even Snopes doesn't completely debunk it, just labels it as unproven.
No one who tried it had any ill effects.
I occasionally completely forget about this, but someone asked me about it the other day. With the colds and coughs out there in full swing, this might be something you want to try.

Before applying anything topical, it is important to make sure you or your child do not have a reaction. Place a small dab on the leg and rub it in. If there is no irritation within 30 minutes or so, you should be fine. (I do this same test with a new sunscreen) 

If you have an infant who is under 4 months of age with a cough that is keeping them up or interfering with their eating, they need to be seen.

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