An NPR story yesterday serves as a warning against using Vicks VapoRub on very young children especially directly under their nose after an 18-month-old was hospitalized with respiratory problems after her parents had applied Vicks under her nostrils (all of which is counter Vicks’ indications, which says the product should be applied to the chest, throat or aching muscles and used on children over 2). The report, which also detailed some follow-up research on lab animals, sparked my interest since at least three or four times since becoming a mom I’ve received a forwarded e-mail suggesting that a great cure for a kid’s nighttime cough is to rub Vicks VapoRub liberally on their feet and then cover the feet with socks to protect the sheets. The latest research on 15 lab ferrets whose congestion worsened instead of improved with Vicks VapoRub seems like it’s based on fairly skimpy data, but maybe it’s still a good cautionary tale.
Snopes.com describes the Vicks-on-the-feet claim as “undetermined” and cautions toward the end of their analysis that some health agencies advise that camphor, which is in Vicks, should not be used on children. I guess that’s enough to make me wary. I never did try the Vicks-on-the-feet trick, and I probably won’t go experimenting with it now. But if any of you swear by it, I’d be curious to know.
When Owen and Will were both battling some brutal nighttime coughs during our Christmas vacation in Colorado, my cousin reminded me of this article I’d posted on the blog a year ago about using honey for a cough. I’d forgotten the tip (another testament to my lousy memory), but started giving a half teaspoon of honey to Will and a quarter teaspoon to Owen each night and their coughing did seem to let up quite a bit. One pediatrician on yesterday’s NPR story also mentioned the beneficial effects of honey on coughs. (Just remember that honey is not safe for babies under 1, due to the risk of infant botulism.) It’s nice to find research that backs up a good old-fashioned, chemical-free home remedy.