Does Vicks Help With Acne? [The Truth]


Vicks is an American brand that produces over-the-counter medications that can help with a range of health issues.

VapoRub is one of the brand’s best-selling products that can be applied to the skin and helps with colds and congestion, but can it help with acne too?

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that Vicks VapoRub can help clear up acne pimples on the face. However, some experts claim that the greasiness of the product can actually worsen acne over time rather than improve it.

So while the jury might be out on the issue of whether Vicks can help with acne or not, there’s definitely something in VapoRub that could help acne.

If you’re at home and you’re worried about the appearance of acne, is it worth taking the risk?

While your dermatologist might not recommend using a product such as VapoRub, there must be a reason why so many people are hailing it as the new home cure for acne.

How Could Vicks Help with Acne?

The evidence that Vicks is effective at treating acne is inconclusive, but with that being said, it’s hard to ignore all the anecdotal evidence that suggests that it is indeed a good treatment option for pimples.

So, what’s the deal?

Well, there’s a possibility that VapoRub could treat acne, and it’s due to the following ingredients in the product’s make-up:


Camphor in the form of an essential oil has been used as a form of medicine for a long time.

The essential oil has been widely lauded for its acne-fighting properties, by several authorities in the skincare industry and large bodies such as the American Botanical Council.

So the inclusion of this ingredient in Vicks VapoRub could be what is leading many people to have great results when using it to treat acne, even though this isn’t the product’s recommended use.

On the website of the manufacturer, camphor is simply used ‘as a cough suppressant’ and nothing more, so Vicks isn’t so confident in the ability of the ingredient to treat acne. As such, you shouldn’t necessarily buy into the hype believing that applying some VapoRub to your acne will have the same positive results it has had for others.


Menthol is the ingredient that most of us strongly associate with VapoRub.

This is the ingredient that causes the cooling sensation and scent which many of us attribute cured colds and congestion to.

Again, with this ingredient, Vicks describes it on its website as merely a ‘cough suppressant.’With that in mind, it isn’t intended to be anything more.

However, when applied topically, it’s true that menthol can reduce swelling of the skin, which could subsequently reduce the appearance of acne and pimples.

On the other hand, menthol could have the opposite effect and actually irritate acne-affected skin, so use VapoRub for acne at your own risk.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is the last main ingredient in VapoRub that could potentially play a role in treating acne.

This essential oil is well-known for healing wounds and fighting bacteria, so it makes sense that it could help to treat acne on the skin.

Yet, the evidence for its effectiveness in this regard is insufficient to say with any certainty.

How Could Vicks be bad for Acne?

As much as we’d love to sit here and tell you that VapoRub is a miracle cure-all that can help not only with congestion and coughing but also with acne and pimples, we can’t with any certainty.

While there seems to be a surge in people using VapoRub to treat acne, the clinical evidence is lagging behind, and experts claim that there could be risks to using Vicks in this way.

To make sure you have a clear idea of what you would be getting yourself into if you decided to give Vicks a go for treating your acne, here are some of the ways it which it could go wrong:

It Could Clog Pores

The first reason to exercise caution and skepticism towards Vicks and its ability to treat acne is that it could clog the pores of your skin.

Since Vicks is a thick and greasy product, it can actually clog up your pores which is the opposite of what you are aiming to do.

If you already have oily or greasy skin, adding an extra layer of greasiness in the form of VapoRub might not be such a good idea.

If hair follicles are covered up due to clogged up pores, you might find that you experience inflammation around the area and redness.

It Could Irritate the Skin

Menthol in particular is an ingredient which you shouldn’t apply to your skin in large quantities.

This is because it can cause the skin to feel tingly and irritated, so although Vicks could well treat acne, it could also make things worse.

It Could Cause Acne to Flare Up

This is the worst possible outcome of using Vicks for acne since you’re trying to prevent and treat acne not aggravate it and cause it to flare up.

However, due to potentially clogging the pores on the skin, you could end up doing just that.

Other Acne Treatments

If you want some relief from acne and a treatment you can try at home, there are a couple of ingredients that should be effective.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide has been shown to kill bacteria that lies under the skin, as well as clearing out the pores which can reduce the appearance of acne.

This makes it one of the best ingredients for tackling acne, and it can also prevent further break outs.

Salicylic Acid

While the word ‘acid’ might put you off this one, salicylic acid is actually well-known for its ability to exfoliate the skin, clear out pores, and clear up acne.

If you want to give this effective acid a go, you can find it in many over-the-counter products, as well as in doctor prescriptions.

It can work for both blackheads and whiteheads, and is best for mild acne.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has some evidence behind it that supports its effectiveness in treating acne.

While the evidence isn’t substantial, it’s worth paying attention to, since tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This makes it ideal for treating both acne and pimples that are brought on by inflammation of the skin.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vicks and Acne

Does VapoRub get rid of acne?

While VapoRub may not be recommended by dermatologists as a way of treating acne, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest it could be effective.

The reason why VapoRub could help with acne and pimples is because of two active ingredients it contains: camphor and menthol.

These compounds could soothe inflamed skin and perhaps even reduce the appearance of acne and pimples, but there are no guarantees.

Is Vicks good for skin?

It’s been said that Vicks can be good for the skin in a variety of ways.

For example, VapoRub can be used to heal up rough skin, potentially treat acne and pimples, and even reduce headaches when applied to the forehead.

So yes, there seems to be a lot of evidence that points to how beneficial Vicks can be for the skin.

Is menthol bad for your skin?

While menthol is used in many skincare products, there are several risks associated with topical application of it.

For example, menthol can trigger irritation in the eyes and on the skin, and even severe reactions in those that are allergic to it.

However, when the menthol is diluted with a carrier oil or lotion as it is in skincare products, it shouldn’t cause irritation or be bad for your skin.

A Final Word From Wellness Nova

Vicks VapoRub is considered by many to be a cure-all skincare product that can help treat coughs, congestion, and much more.

However, the evidence that it can actually treat acne is inconclusive at best and damning at worst, so while VapoRub could help with acne it can be risky.

Article by:

Wellness Nova Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Wellness Nova Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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