a beautiful girl applying vicks on her hair

Side Effects of Applying Vicks on Hair

A miraculous salve called Vicks VapoRub is used in homes worldwide. Its mentholated scent eased coughs, congestion, and even muscle aches. It felt like a warm hug. However, a few courageous people ventured beyond its conventional use in wellness and beauty. There have been reports of people massaging their scalps with Vicks VapoRub in the hopes that it may cure different scalp ailments or promote hair growth. But like any potion, there are unintended consequences.

The Science Behind Vicks VapoRub

Before delving into the side effects, it’s crucial to understand the composition of Vicks VapoRub. This topical ointment contains active ingredients such as menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil. These ingredients work together to provide a cooling sensation and help alleviate symptoms of respiratory congestion.

While Vicks is generally safe when used as directed for its intended purpose, its effects on the scalp and hair follicles are less understood.

Myth vs. Reality

One of the most prevalent myths surrounding Vicks VapoRub is its supposed ability to stimulate hair growth. Advocates of this practice often claim that the menthol and eucalyptus oil in Vicks can improve blood circulation to the scalp, thereby promoting hair growth. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims. Hair growth is a complex process influenced by genetics, hormones, and overall health.

While specific topical treatments may support a healthy scalp environment, they are unlikely to produce significant hair growth independently.

Potential Side Effects

Scalp Irritation

Applying Vicks VapoRub directly to the scalp can lead to irritation and inflammation. The potent menthol and camphor may cause a burning sensation, redness, and itching, particularly in individuals with sensitive skin.

Tip: Conduct a patch test before applying Vicks to your scalp. Apply a small amount of the ointment to a small skin area and monitor for any adverse reactions for 24 hours.

Hair Damage

The thick, greasy texture of Vicks VapoRub can weigh down hair and make it appear smooth and unkempt. Over time, this buildup may lead to clogged hair follicles and potential damage to the hair shaft.

Tip: If you inadvertently apply Vicks to your hair, use a gentle clarifying shampoo to remove the residue and restore your hair’s natural balance.

Allergic Reactions

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the ingredients in Vicks VapoRub, such as menthol or eucalyptus oil. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing.

Tip: If you have a known allergy to any ingredients in Vicks, avoid using it on your scalp or hair altogether.

Expert Insights

To shed light on the potential risks of using Vicks VapoRub on hair, we contacted Dr Emily Wong, a dermatologist specializing in scalp health.

“Applying Vicks VapoRub to the scalp can disrupt the skin’s natural barrier function and lead to irritation,” says Dr. Wong. “While some people may tolerate it well, others may experience adverse reactions such as redness, itching, or even allergic dermatitis.”

Dr. Wong advises caution when experimenting with unconventional hair treatments and suggests consulting a dermatologist before trying new products.

Additional Considerations

Disruption of the Scalp Microbiome

The menthol and camphor in Vicks VapoRub may disrupt the delicate balance of microorganisms on the scalp, leading to dysbiosis and potential scalp infections.

Tip: Maintain scalp health using gentle, pH-balanced hair care products and avoid harsh chemicals or irritants.

Potential for Chemical Burns

Prolonged or excessive use of Vicks VapoRub on the scalp can significantly increase the risk of chemical burns if the skin is compromised or sensitive.

Tip: Use Vicks sparingly and discontinue use if you experience any signs of irritation or discomfort.

Safety Precautions

  • Avoid Contact with Eyes and Mucous Membranes

Vicks VapoRub is not intended for use near the eyes or on mucous membranes. Avoid applying it too close to the hairline to prevent accidental contact with these sensitive areas.

  • Keep Out of Reach of Children

Ensure that Vicks VapoRub is stored securely away from children to prevent accidental ingestion or misuse.

  • Use as Directed

Follow the Vicks VapoRub packaging instructions and consult a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about its use.

By following these safety precautions and being mindful of the potential side effects, you can make informed decisions about whether Vicks VapoRub is suitable for use on your hair and scalp.


It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health and well-being. In the realm of home remedies and beauty hacks, it’s easy to be lured by the promise of quick fixes and miraculous results.

However, it’s essential to approach such practices with caution and scepticism. While Vicks VapoRub may work wonders for relieving congestion, its effects on the scalp and hair are not well-documented. Proceed with care, and when in doubt, consult a healthcare professional before embarking on any hair-related experiments. After all, the quest for luscious locks should never come at the expense of scalp health and overall well-being.

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