The findings of a new study indicate that the popular cold remedy Vicks VapoRub is not safe for young children. Researchers at Wake Forest University say that the product may cause airway inflammation that can restrict breathing in infants and toddlers.
The doctors began their study after they treated an 18-month-old girl in the emergency room for severe respiratory distress after the salve had been put directly under her nose to relieve cold symptoms. They found that Vicks can induce inflammation, and even a small increase in inflammation can have a big effect on young children's breathing. In tests, the product increased mucus production by up to 59 percent and decreased the ability to clear mucus by 36 percent.
The product's label says that it should not be applied in the nose or on children under the age of two. Proctor & Gamble, which manufactures Vicks, says that it is safe and effective when used as directed. Some doctors, however, say that parents shouldn't use the product at all because it has no medical value and may be dangerous for some children.