Vicks VapoRub for Onychomyosis

Vicks VapoRub for Onychomyosis or Fungal Nails

Vicks VapoRub ointment is a mentholated topical ointment used as a vapour to relieve nasal congestion in the common cold or as a chest and back rub for some relief from dry coughs and muscle aches due to colds. The product is only licensed as a decongestant.

Some have advocated its use for fungal nail or onychomycosis and claim good success with it.

The active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub are camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol and have no known anti-fungal activity.

The product comes with a warning not to use on broken skin and as dermatophytes do create a breach in the epidermal barrier, then the product would be contraindicated for onychomycosis or fungal skin infections.

The apparent clinical success claimed by those who advocate its use could be explained by placebo or due to the essential oils used in the Vicks VaboRub producing a bleaching on the keratin in the nail. This would give the false appearance of an improvement.

Research on the use of Vicks VapoRub for Fungal Nails:

Derby et al 2011"Fifteen of the 18 participants (83%) showed a positive treatment effect; 5 (27.8%) had a mycological and clinical cure at 48 weeks; 10 (55.6%) had partial clearance, and 3 (16.7%) showed no change. All 18 participants rated their satisfaction with the nail appearance at the end of the study as "satisfied" (n = 9) or "very satisfied" (n = 9)."No placebo group.
Improvement and satisfaction was based on appearane, so could have been due to bleaching of the keratin and not mycological cure.
Snell et al 2016


  • Despair is often expressed in social media by those advocating a science and evidence-based approach to the treatment of onychomycosis as to why a treatment that has no known anti-fungal properties and lacks evidence for its effectiveness would be recommended.
  • This is seen as promoting pseudoscience.
  • The basis for the use of this product are all anecdotal and those so-called successes are almost certainly due to the essential oils in the Vicks VapoRub bleaching the keratin to give the appearance of it getting better.

External Links:
Vicks VapoRub is Effective and Safe for Onychomycosis (Podiatry Arena)
Vicks VapoRub may actually work for onychomycosis (Podiatry Arena)

Page last updated: @ 1:20 am

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