Applying Vicks VapoRub Under Your Nose May Cause Pneumonia, Claims US Doctor

Vicks Vaporub Cannot Be Applied Directly Under The Nose, Claims US Doctor

Whenever we feel under the weather and have stuffy noses, a common home remedy we Singaporeans turn to is Vicks Vaporub gel.


While most people apply the gel on our chest or temples, a handful of us tend to apply it directly under our nostrils to help us breathe better.

However, a recent Facebook post by a United States doctor named Dr Hawa Edriss warns us that doing so might be dangerous for our health.


The post has since gone viral, garnering over 22,000 shares.

Man contracted pneumonia from breathing in Vicks Vaporub gel

According to Dr Edriss, a middle-aged man had been applying Vicks Vaporub gel directly under his nose for over 10 years to combat his persistent nasal congestion issue.

Since then, he went in and out of health care centres after being diagnosed with respiratory distress. Doctors determined his sickness to be infectious pneumonia, which is inaccurate, as Dr Edriss clarified in her post.

As we’ll find out, the disease is not infectious.

Upon picking up the case, Dr Edriss found that the accurate diagnosis for this man is Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia.

Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia caused by breathing in mineral oils

At this point, you must be thinking, what on earth is Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia?

Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia (ELP), as defined by Dr Edriss, is an uncommon pneumonia type caused by inhalation of fatty substance like animal fat, vegetable oil, or mineral oils.

Photo for illustration purposes only

ELP can become apparent within 30 minutes of the inhalation on X-rays. The breather’s lungs will develop black spots within 24 hours of the last inhalation.

In this case, black spots can be seen in the man’s lungs as evidenced by his CT chest images below.


Vick’s is not harmful if not applied directly under the nose

In conclusion, Vick’s Vaporub itself is harmless if not applied directly under the nose.

According to Dr Edriss, the gel contains tons of mineral oils like petrolatum, eucalyptus oil, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil.

Inhaling oils directly will result in them getting stuck in the lungs like what happened to this man.

So if you’re feeling unwell, you can apply the gel on your chest, feet or temples. Just don’t apply it under your nostrils.

We have reached out to Vick’s Singapore for a statement and will update the article accordingly.

Know someone who has the habit of applying the gel under their nose? Share this piece of news with them in the comments below.

Feature images adapted from Facebook.

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