10 Ways Latinos use & abuse Vicks VapoRub

I have to say I was pretty weirded out when I heard about Danielle from TLC's My Strange Addiction and her obsession with Vicks VapoRub. The 33-year-old woman has developed a 20 year addiction to the topical ointment and especially loves to place it on the back of her tongue. She claims she loves the way it melts in the back of her throat. Gross! But as bizarre as her habit may be, I couldn't help but think about my experience with the cough suppressant. Like most Latinos, I grew up seeing my mamá using "Vaporú" (vapor rub) on practically EVERYTHING!


I remember always referring to it as the "blue miracle gel" because whenever I'd use it, my symptoms would instantly go away. And I have to admit my love for VapoRub has very much carried into my adulthood. It's not just limited to rubbing on your chest to cure a nasty cough, but can be used for much MUCH more. Check out a few other surprising ways Latinos have can used this cult favorite!

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1. For your feet: Whenever my feet are feeling beat I rub a generous amount of "Vaporú" all over them before bed. I immediately cover with socks and in the morning I wake up with smooth, relaxed feet!

2. If you have a headache: Believe it or not, the camphor-filled gel can do wonders on a bad headache. Just apply a small amount to your forehead and on your temples. The strong mentholated scent helps relieve tension and pain. In minutes you'll feel like a whole new woman!

3. To cure zits: Most Latinos I know use VapoRub as the ultimate acne spot-on treatment. Just take a cotton swab and apply to the affected areas. In the morning they'll be instantly gone. It seriously has worked for me every time.

4. After a work out: Our Assistant Managing Editor applies some to her joints and muscles after an intense work out. It not only successfully relieves sore, overworked muscles but it also helps increase circulation. Who would have thought?

5. To heal burns: Every SINGLE time my abuelita burns herself while cooking, she massages some of this healing ointment onto her effected skin. It's no wonder the kitchen always smells like "Vaporú!"

6. To ward off mosquitoes: Growing up, my siblings and I were the only kids in the playground (because we grew up in a non-Latino neighborhood) walking around spelling like "Vaporú." My mom would embarrassingly enough apply a small amount to our arms and legs to prevent any mosquito bites. But every now and then we'd still get bit and she'd just apply it AGAIN to relieve itching.

7. To treat redness: I've actually heard of Latinos using vapor rub to treat roscea and blotchiness. They apply it to their face like a mask and wear it over night and in the morning wake up with a smooth even complexion. I'm not sure if it does the trick, but the people I know who do this say it works. 

8. For chapped lips: My abuela can't stand seeing me with chapped lips, something I've struggled with for years. And I should also mention she carries a small jar of Vicks VapoRub in her purse no matter where she's going. So if we're out and I'm out of balm, she'll literally tell me to rub some on my lips. I have to admit though, it really does work.

9. To fake a cry: I'd probably never tell my kids about this one, but when I was little whenever I wanted to fake a tantrum with my parents I used to apply a little bit of "Vaporú" under my eyes to get myself tearing. I always got caught though, because a Dominican mother could literally smell vapor rub from a mile away.

10. To prevent doors from creaking: One of our editors' husband applies VapoRub to the hinges of his doors like you would a penetrating oil to prevent doors from creaking. Hey if it works, why not?

Image via Diapers.com

What are some ways you have used Vicks VapoRub?

Topics: inspiration  inspiring stories  life


What are some ways you have used Vicks VapoRub?

on Mar 9, 2013 at 10:58 PM

LOL I remember myself using vaporub to make me cry!! haha it was so funny... we pretended to be actresses from "novelas" and when we get to the part where we supposed to cry, we use a little bit of vaporu.. lol

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on Mar 28, 2013 at 12:35 AM

I also found out that it works great for people who have fungus on thier nails. apply twice a day and you will see the results in 4 to 6 months.

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on Oct 13, 2013 at 4:13 PM
My mother used to put a ton of the stuff on my chest whenever I felt sick and it always made me better. I began using it on my son whenever he had "growing pains" I would rub some on his joints and it would help with the pain! Later on, my Anglo husband learned that it was the best chap stick ever! Whenever my lips were dry, I would apply a generous amount of it on my lips and VOILA! problem solved! Now, my all white family is as addicted to it. I buy this small tin cans of Vaporu across the border and it makes it so easy to carry! So whenever I get a chance, I buy 5-10 small tins and bring them home. My son and teenage girl swear by it for chapped lips, and now everyone in the house carries their own tin everywhere we go! I went to the post office the other day and decided to take my tin with me. The lady at the counter saw me and asked me "-Where did you get that????-" I told her that I get them across the border, and said, "You may think I am weird, but I use it for chapped lips and it works great". Then she confessed: "-I am addicted to the scent, but carrying a whole jar is hard, so that is a great idea!" FINALLY!! I felt like a long lost sister had been found, so I told her I would bring her a tin next time I came over. I delivered and she was so happy!! Hey, anyone who can appreciate the beauty and attributes of this magic wonder, deserves to be able to enjoy it whenever and wherever they want! I am just happy to spread the love of "vaporu"!
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on Jun 21, 2014 at 2:25 PM
I must admit that I thought I was using Vicks for EVERYTHING, but this is the first time I hear about the hinges and to treat redness. There is another way to use Vicks that my abuelita used was to take the ashes of a cigar, mix with Vicks, apply on throat and then cover the neck with a white men's handkerchief. That was the remedy for a sore and scratchy throat. The other was with nutmeg, but that is a different remedy. Well, now I am a greatgrandmother and my grandchildren (2 &5) come to me to apply vicks on knees, forehead and arms. I am currently writing my memoir Moving from Bitterness to Betterment: Surviving the Pain (tentative title) and guess what? I just finished writing about Vicks and how my mami used to apply it to me whenever she finished beating me. Good ol' Vicks has gone up tremendously in price. However, there is none like it. Our family did not call it "vaporu" but just Vicks. I did not read about applying it to the inside of the nose, I still do that. I also did "eat' the Vicks, but I did not put it all the way in the back of my throat, just a bit on the tip of my tongue. I am going to repost this article @ http://ow.ly/wxZeM Oh, by the way, I am a Nuyorican (born in New York and family from Puerto Rico). Happy Vicks-ing to everyone.
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on Oct 14, 2014 at 10:41 AM
I just read that if you rub vicks on your jack o lantern, the squirrels won't eat it, so I'm getting some today :)
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on Jun 11, 2015 at 1:31 PM
Some of these uses for Vaporub are not really surprising, after all it is a topical analgesic, as writen on its label
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on Oct 11, 2016 at 2:25 AM
My mom told me that she use it for personal thing like sexs and I tried it and it work for that to
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