Can Vicks Cause Miscarriage – Can You Use Vicks While Pregnant?

By Maria Wilcox •  Updated: 09/07/22 •  12 min read
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Your throat hurts, your head hurts, and your nose is congested – and you’re pregnant. You’re likely wondering if Vicks can help . Which often begs the question, “Can Vicks cause miscarriage?” Because Vicks contains an ingredient known to cause miscarriage in large doses, it’s important that you do the research to help inform your decision to use it. Luckily, that’s what we’re here for! In this article, we’ll be exploring the dangers of using Vicks and what you might want to do to get relief instead to ensure a happy and safe pregnancy. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started. 

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Can You Use Vicks While Pregnant?

Starting with the most obvious question – Can you use Vicks Vaporub when pregnant? The answer is that it depends

Just like questions dealing with cinnamon or wine while pregnant, answers aren’t usually entirely clear-cut. Reports on whether or not Vicks Vaporub is actually safe for pregnant women differ. While most sources claim that using the product as directed is okay, there are other sources that seem to indicate that this popular minty rub should not be used at all. Because of this, it is usually best to confer with the manufacturer as well as to do your own research to find out the truth. 

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Is Vicks Safe While Pregnant?

According to Vicks’ website, there are no claims as to whether Vicks is either approved or unapproved for pregnant and nursing women. There is, however, a recommendation against using Vicks Vaporub for babies, so be sure to keep the rub far away from your little one’s skin and nostrils. 

But what about you? 

Well, there are other elements concerning Vaporub that we can examine to determine whether or not it is the right fit for a pregnant mother. One of which is the ingredients. Vaporub contains menthol, eucalyptus, and an ingredient known as camphor. While menthol and eucalyptus may be safe for pregnant women camphor is generally regarded as not.

So, does this completely eradicate Vicks Vaporub as being safe for you? Not necessarily.

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What Is Camphor?

Camphor is a transparent solid that is extracted from the wood of camphor laurel trees. It is often waxy and has a strong aroma. Many times this ingredient is added to lotions and creams to improve sinuses and clear nasal blockages. 

It is these properties that make camphor a key ingredient in Vicks Vaporub. Touted for providing nasal relief practically on contact, Vicks Vaporub can be a tempting grab, especially when you aren’t able to breathe through your nose. 

But does the camphor ingredient really make Vicks Vaporub dangerous? Read on to find out! 

Why is Vicks Not Safe For Pregnancy

Because Vicks contains camphor, it is important to note that this ingredient, especially in high doses, can cause miscarriage. Studies indicate that 50-500mg of camphor is considered toxic to human health and can lead to death. Thus, when taken internally, camphor can not only do damage to the fetus but to the mother as well. 

Camphor can pass through the placenta and reach your baby. Your baby does not have the enzymes necessary to counteract the effect of the high levels of camphor. For this reason, camphor can put your baby’s life at risk.

Though this information is true and should be taken into account before using Vicks Vaporub, it is important to note that camphor is most lethal when consumed. This means that you may not consider camphor to be fatal if you are simply applying it to your skin.

Having said that, because the camphor in Vicks Vaporub may absorb into your skin and into your bloodstream, it is certainly worth taking this subject matter seriously as this key ingredient has the ability to seriously injure your unborn baby.

Is Vicks Okay to Use While Pregnant?

Using Vicks Vaporub while pregnant is risky.

Most sources you find on the subject matter will tote the ointment as generally safe for pregnant women while others may caution you to steer clear of it. Because of the serious risks associated with camphor crossing the placenta, we recommend that you use discretion when using Vicks Vaporub. You may even consider avoiding it altogether. 

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Natural Ways To Beat a Stuffy Nose

We know you may be a bit bummed about the risks connected to using Vicks Vaporub. But never fear! There are plenty of other natural ways for you to relieve stuffiness without having to worry about putting you and your baby’s health at risk. 

Consider the following ways to clear out those nasal passages the next time you are tempted to reach for Vicks!

Steam Inhalation

Inhaling steam is one of the best ways to unblock nasal passages. It is a natural and unobtrusive method for soothing irritated sinuses. It can provide other types of relief for your tired pregnant body as well. For example, taking a warm shower not only can help soothe your blocked nasal passages but also, can provide relief to achy muscles. The same is true of a warm bath. Just be sure that the bath doesn’t exceed 95 degrees F (35 C) as this can be harmful to you and your baby. Also, be sure to exit the tub, carefully, amid any signs of dizziness or unwellness. 

Not into the tub and shower scene? Try steam inhalation over a sink. To do this, simply run some hot water and place a towel horizontally over your head. Lower your head into the sink with the towel draped over it to trap the steam. Breathe the steam created from the hot water in through your nose to the degree to which you are able. If you are not to breathe through your nose at all, simply breathe any way you can under the towel until you feel your nasal passages become unblocked.

When you are in this position, you may wipe your nose as it begins to unclog, but you may wish to resist blowing your nose. Blowing your nose too frequently can lead to further irritation and congestion. Thus, simply wiping your nose as it leaks is by far the best choice when trying to treat a blockage. 

Note: Try to keep your head near steaming water for at least 10-15 minutes for best results. Repeat this process as needed up to two to three times daily. 

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A humidifier is a great option for pregnant women, assuming that you are using distilled water in the machine. 

A humidifier works by dispersing tiny droplets of moisture into the air, and thus, can work to moisturize and unblock sinuses. Humidifiers come in both cold and warm forms. A warm air humidifier will work more like steam inhalation. Cool mist humidifiers will work well to moisturize the air in the room, overall. 

While a humidifier is a great option for pregnant women, you will need to be careful what you place in it. For example, if you love using your humidifier for diffusing essential oils, you may wish to reconsider. Although natural is often best for pregnant women, there are many experts that claim it is better to wait until your first trimester has passed before breathing in certain essential oils (such as peppermint). This is likely due to an increased risk of miscarriage within the first trimester.  

There are also some oils you should avoid completely. These include: 

  • Birch 
  • Basil
  • Tansy
  • Hyssop
  • Sage

Also, you’ll want to be certain that you aren’t using an old humidifier riddled with mold. To further ensure the cleanliness of the steamed air leaving your humidifier, be sure to pour only distilled water into its tank. Both using tap water and using a moldy humidifier may have adverse effects on your respiratory system by sending toxins into the air. 

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Drinking Plenty of Fluid

Staying hydrated while pregnant is always important, but it is even more important when you’re sick.

When you’re dehydrated, symptoms of nasal pressure and congestion can grow worse. By drinking enough water, you hydrate yourself along with your sinuses, and this hydration can work wonders in unclogging unwanted nasal blockages. 

Stay Elevated

Last, but not least, be sure to stay elevated if you are experiencing blocked sinuses as doing so can help clear blockages. Remember to wipe and not blow as your nasal passes begin to drain themselves. If you must blow, be sure to do so gently, so as not to further compound the problem. 

Vicks Vaporub During Pregnancy First Trimester

The first trimester is a very crucial time in the development of your baby. As such, it is important that you do everything you can to ensure your baby’s safety. 

When in your first trimester, we would recommend that you avoid using Vicks Vaporub, as well as avoid essential oils, camphor, and products containing phenylephrine. This drug is known to construct the blood vessels’ nasal passages, making it easy to breathe again. However, it is unsafe for pregnant women to use. Because of this, it is important that you avoid nasal decongestants that feature this ingredient, and this includes Vicks Cough and Congestion DM.

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Using Vicks During Pregnancy

As mentioned, there are times when Vicks Vaporub during pregnancy may be safe, however, it is important to use discretion when doing so, as Vicks contains camphor which is known to cause miscarriage. Consider these other questions related to pregnancy and Vicks for even more information on proper usage of Vicks Vaporub while pregnant.

Can I Apply Vicks on Nose During Pregnancy?

You could apply Vicks on your nose during pregnancy however the directions indicate that Vicks is best used on the chest and throat. For pregnant women, we recommend that you only use this medication as directed. You should also be sure to use only a little, especially considering that it contains camphor.

Moreover, using Vicks on the nose may cause discomfort to the person using it as this may burn the sensitive skin around the nostrils. 

Smelling Vicks Vaporub While Pregnant?

Smelling Vicks Vapor Rub while pregnant may be a better solution than applying it directly to your skin. Don’t forget that you can also get relief from using the steam from a warm shower or bending over a sink of hot running water to get similar–or better–results. 

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Can I Use Vicks Chest Rub While Pregnant?

Vicks Chest Rub may be used while pregnant, but know the stipulations before you do. Because Vicks contains camphor, it is a risky choice. Camphor is known to cause miscarriages in women as it passes through the blood and into the placenta. And though the lethal dose of camphor pertains to it being taken by mouth, one should always use caution when applying this drug to their skin. Avoidance of the product may be best. 

Can I Rub Vicks on My Back While Pregnant?

We don’t recommend using Vicks Vaporub outside of its intended use while pregnant. According to the package directions, Vicks Vaporub should be used on the chest and neck. Therefore, we cannot recommend that you place the product on your back, especially while pregnant. 

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Vicks Vaporub on Feet While Pregnant?

Similar to putting Vicks on your back when pregnant, we wouldn’t recommend putting Vicks on your feet as this was not the intended purpose of the product. Instead, you should use the product on your throat and chest, and even then, you must do so with caution. 

Can Vicks Cause Miscarriage? Be Cautious…

While Vicks Vaporub is unlikely to harm your baby when used as directed and in small amounts, it does contain camphor which is definitely a concern. To be sure, we’d recommend avoiding using Vicks especially since the consensus seems to split amongst medical professionals. Still, if you must use Vicks, be sure to use it only as intended and be sure to only use a tiny amount. 

Can Vicks cause miscarriage – FAQs

Is menthol rub safe in pregnancy?

It can be. However, menthol rubs that contain concerning ingredients such as camphor should be used with caution and discretion. It should also only be used as directed, and as a tiny amount at a time. 

Does Vicks still use camphor in its ingredients?

As of the time this post was written, Vicks Vaporub still uses camphor as part of its ingredients.

Maria Wilcox

Former instructor with an M.A. in Education turned grateful stay-at-home mama to one, I look to share helpful insights related to babies, toddlers, kids, and families for the benefit of real people just like you.

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