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Vicks for Acne (Debunking Common Misconceptions)

A long-standing debate revolves around the question: "Does Vicks help with acne?" It's not uncommon to see beauty hacks and home remedies featuring unconventional uses of everyday products.

Acne, being one of the most common skin issues, has been the focus of many such discussions. Among them, the use of Vicks VapoRub, commonly known as a cough suppressant, as an acne treatment has been heavily discussed.

This article will dive into the components of Vicks VapoRub, its potential effect on acne-prone skin, cystic acne, rosacea-prone skin, and more. With numerous conflicting opinions available, it's high time we address this intriguing question: Does Vicks VapoRub truly help with acne?

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Vicks VapoRub contains ingredients that may temporarily relieve acne inflammation but could clog pores and exacerbate acne conditions.

  • Comparatively, Vicks VapoRub lacks the acne-fighting ingredients in standard acne treatments, such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and tea tree oil.

  • The cooling sensation of Vicks VapoRub can offer temporary comfort for inflamed acne but does not address the root causes of acne.

  • Exposed Skin Care offers a more reliable and less risky solution than unconventional methods like Vicks VapoRub.

Woman in a blue shirt smears hands with vicks vaporub

Vicks VapoRub and Its Formula

Vicks VapoRub has been a staple in many medicine cabinets for generations. It's well-known for its cough-suppressing qualities, but can Vicks VapoRub treat skin diseases such as acne? Before we can answer that, it's essential to understand the ingredients in Vicks.

The Vicks VapoRub formula includes eucalyptus oil, petroleum jelly, and camphor among other ingredients. Eucalyptus oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, while camphor has a cooling sensation that can relieve cough symptoms and possibly reduce swelling.

However, petroleum jelly, the greasy vehicle in the Vicks formula, is essentially a heavy moisturizer that can easily clog pores, particularly in acne-prone skin. While it locks in moisture and protects the skin, this ingredient could worsen acne.

The Potential Impact of Vicks VapoRub on Acne

Applying Vicks VapoRub on Acne-Prone Skin

Acne occurs when excess oil and dead skin cells clog pores, causing unwanted inflammation and a breakout of pimples. But how does this relate to the use of Vicks VapoRub on acne-prone skin?

As mentioned, one of the main components of Vicks Vaporub is petroleum jelly, which could easily clog pores. By applying a thin layer of Vicks VapoRub to acne-prone skin, there's a risk that more acne could be produced due to further clogged pores.

Vicks VapoRub and Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is a more severe form of acne characterized by the development of cysts. These cysts can cause significant skin discomfort and potentially lead to scarring. Given its severity, treating acne requires an effective treatment that can penetrate the skin surface to reach the cysts.

In the case of cystic acne, applying Vicks VapoRub could potentially cause more harm than good. Due to the heavy petroleum jelly content, it may further clog pores and exacerbate the acne, leading to more acne flare-ups.

Unknown female teenager with acne taking off mask

Cooling Sensation and Acne

One of the reasons people found Vicks VapoRub helpful in reducing acne is its cooling sensation, mainly due to its camphor content. This sensation might reduce pain temporarily, thereby providing some relief from inflamed acne.

However, the cooling sensation should not be mistaken for acne improvement. While it can provide temporary comfort, it does not address the root cause of acne, which is often excess oil production, dead skin cell buildup, and bacteria.

Vicks VapoRub: A Comparison with Common Acne Treatments

If the question, "Does Vicks help with acne?" still lingers, comparing it with common acne treatments could be helpful. This could provide a clearer picture of whether Vicks VapoRub is a good acne treatment.

Vicks VapoRub Vs. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in many acne treatments because it reduces inflammation and removes excess dead skin that can clog pores. Unlike Vicks VapoRub, salicylic acid is a proven acne-fighting substance.

While Vicks contains eucalyptus oil and camphor, which have some anti-inflammatory properties, it doesn't contain ingredients that can effectively treat acne, such as salicylic acid.

Young woman choosing skin care product

Vicks VapoRub Vs. Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is another go-to acne fighter that kills bacteria that can cause acne. It's commonly used in acne spot treatments because it reduces pimples.

Comparatively, Vicks VapoRub doesn't contain ingredients with similar acne-fighting capabilities. While it may help reduce acne-related discomfort due to its cooling effect, it doesn't actively fight acne-causing bacteria like benzoyl peroxide.

Vicks VapoRub vs Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil, often found in diluted form, is a popular natural remedy for acne. It's known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can help fight pimples and reduce inflammation.

In contrast, while Vicks VapoRub contains essential oils such as eucalyptus oil, these oils do not have the same potency or acne-fighting properties as tea tree oil. Additionally, petroleum jelly in Vicks VapoRub may irritate sensitive acne-prone skin and lead to further acne.

Alternatives to Vicks VapoRub for Acne Treatment

While the question, "Does Vicks help with acne?" can't be definitively answered with a 'yes', numerous alternatives are available for acne treatment. Here are a few that can be found in commercial products or as home remedies:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This has cleansing properties that can remove excess oil and balance the skin's pH levels.

  • Tea Tree Oil: With its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it's a well-known home remedy for acne.

Woman in bathrobe holds dropper bottle of tea tree oil

  • Salicylic Acid: Found in numerous over-the-counter acne treatments, this ingredient can remove excess dead skin and reduce inflammation.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide: This ingredient effectively kills acne-causing bacteria, making it a commonly used acne spot treatment.

The Benefits of Exposed Skin Care for Acne Management

If you're grappling with acne, finding anti-acne products designed to manage this skin condition is vital.

Exposed Skin Care Ultimate Kit

One such product is Exposed Skin Care, which has several key advantages:

  • Specific Formulation: Unlike some treatments, such as the debated use of Vicks on acne, Exposed Skin Care is specifically designed to combat acne. It contains powerful acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.

  • Avoids Irritating Ingredients: Unlike other acne treatments, Exposed Skin Care is free from irritating ingredients that could inflame acne-prone skin. This makes it a gentler option for sensitive skin types.

  • Risk Mitigation: Using a product specifically designed to treat acne ensures that the benefits outweigh the risks, unlike unconventional methods where risks outweigh the potential advantages, such as using Vicks.

Overall, turning to products like Exposed Skin Care that are specifically designed to combat acne can lead to better results and minimize potential skin complications.


While some may perceive Vicks VapoRub as a potential remedy for acne, it's crucial to understand its fundamental purpose: to serve as a cough suppressant, not an acne treatment. Its core ingredients—petroleum jelly, camphor, and eucalyptus oil—may offer temporary comfort from acne-associated discomfort, but they do not address the root causes of acne. Furthermore, the heavy texture of petroleum jelly could potentially exacerbate acne conditions by clogging pores, especially in acne-prone skin.

Although the cooling effect provided by Vicks VapoRub might bring temporary relief, it does not indicate any acne improvement. More severe cases like cystic acne could even experience amplified flare-ups.

Exploring unconventional acne remedies is fascinating, but it's important to remember that effectiveness varies greatly between individuals. Therefore, relying on purpose-designed anti-acne products like Exposed Skin Care is often more effective. Formulated with potent acne-fighting ingredients and without skin-irritating substances, these products offer a comprehensive, risk-balanced approach to managing acne.


Is Vicks good for acne?

While some claim that Vicks VapoRub helps their acne, it's crucial to remember that it is not designed to treat acne. It primarily contains petroleum jelly, camphor, and eucalyptus oil. While camphor and eucalyptus oil can temporarily relieve inflammation, petroleum jelly can easily clog pores and possibly make acne worse.

Can Vicks help your skin?

Vicks VapoRub can provide a cooling sensation and temporary relief for minor skin irritations due to its camphor content. However, its ability to treat skin diseases and conditions like acne is not established.

How to get rid of acne fast?

Getting rid of acne quickly involves using proven acne treatments such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or tea tree oil. These substances have properties that can reduce inflammation, remove excess dead skin, and kill acne-causing bacteria.

Can Vaseline (petroleum jelly) help with acne?

While petroleum jelly can help to moisturize and protect the skin, its heavy texture can easily clog pores and lead to more acne, especially in acne-prone skin. Therefore, it's generally not recommended for individuals with acne.