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Is Vicks Safe During Pregnancy? Everything You Need To Know!

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Is Vicks safe during pregnancy? Here’s what to know, plus other tips and products to help you manage your health while pregnant!

If you’re a first time mom, you probably don’t know which medications are safe during pregnancy. And it can be difficult to sift through all the options when you’re already experiencing cold symptoms during flu season. So we’re breaking down some safe options for you!

When it comes to medications, there are plenty of no-no’s, but lots of approved options, too.

Is Vicks one of them?

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know, including answers to questions like “can Vicks cause miscarriage?” and “is smelling Vicks while pregnant okay?”.

We also share other tips and products to manage your health during pregnancy!

RELATED: Is elderberry safe during pregnancy?

Can you use Vicks while pregnant?

Blue and green tub of Vicks Vaporub, safe pregnancy medication, next to mask.

Yes and no!

When most people hear “Vicks” they immediately think of the “Vaporub”. But, there are different Vicks products for cold and sickness. Some Vicks products are safe while others aren’t.

You should avoid products with ephedrine (not enough is known about the effects on an unborn baby) and phenylephrine hydrochloride. Phenylephrine hydrochloride can reduce blood flow and is especially dangerous for those with a history of preeclampsia.

Active Ingredients

The active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub are camphor (a cough suppressant and topical analgesic), eucalyptus oil (a cough suppressant), and menthol (a cough suppressant and topical analgesic). The inactive ingredients in Vicks VapoRub include cedar leaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol, and turpentine oil.

The main ingredients in the Vaporub are safe when applied topically: camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, and turpentine oil. However, camphor can lead to miscarriage when ingested. Vicks is safe during pregnancy only when used properly.

Safe Products

Here are the Vicks products that are generally safe:

Products to use with doctor’s approval:

  • Vicks DayQuil or NyQuil Syrups
  • Vicks Sinex Severe nasal spray – The active ingredient in this spray is oxymetazoline. While no adequate studies have been done on pregnant women, it may be safe for short-term use if needed. 

Not safe for pregnancy:

  • Vicks Sinex Severe decongestant capsules – These capsules contain phenylephrine, which is not safe for a pregnant mother.

It is always recommended that you speak with your health care provider before using any medication you aren’t sure about.

Other Safe Cold Medications and Treatments

Sick pregnant woman on the couch next to coffee table with different medications.

Non-Medicinal Treatments

When pregnant, it’s a good idea to try natural remedies first (except in the case of a fever). Make sure you get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Steam and heat can be your best friend to fight both congestion and throat irritation.

Foods and beverages like soup and herbal teas can bring much-needed relief. And you can ease muscle aches and headaches with a cold compress.

If you’re experiencing nasal congestion, here are some other non-medicinal treatments to try. These methods can help clear your nasal passages and provide quick sinus relief:

If you need a natural cough suppressant, you can try:

  • Honey tea
  • Ginger tea
  • Steam
  • Gargling warm salt water

RELATED: Can pregnant women drink Gatorade?

Pregnancy-Safe Medicinal Treatments

While Vicks is generally safe during pregnancy, there are plenty of other over the counter medications you can try, too. Here are some of the most popular cold medications for pregnant women. These products can provide relief from sore throat, stuffy nose or runny nose as well as other symptoms like sinus headache and fever.

  • Tylenol
  • Sudafed (Be sure to select pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine; you should NOT take Sudafed PE. Avoid use during the first trimester and while breastfeeding. And those who have high blood pressure should consult with their doctor before use).
  • Robitussin DM (Just be sure to consult your doctor if you’re in the first trimester).
  • Expectorants like Mucinex (Check with your doctor about dosages).
  • Benadryl
  • Throat lozenges (cough drops)
  • Claritin

And here’s a comprehensive list of safe medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding from AWH. This covers all sorts of maladies including allergies, constipation, and yeast infection.

When should I be concerned?

It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor about new medications, but a general cold isn’t necessarily a reason to be concerned and hop on the phone. Mild illnesses are very common while pregnant because your immune system is weaker.

If you’re taking safe medications and don’t get better in a couple of days, that’s a good time to reach out to your physician.

However, If you experience a fever at any point during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol right away and call your healthcare provider. Fevers can be harmful to an unborn child and increase the risk of birth defects. Try not to panic, but do take steps to reduce your fever and follow instructions from your doctor.

RELATED: Can I use Vicks while breastfeeding?


Husband comforts wife who's sick during pregnancy and blows her nose with tissue.
Can I rub Vicks on my back while pregnant?

Vicks can be rubbed on the back, throat, or chest and is considered safe during pregnancy (provided you follow all product instructions). Vicks is not safe when ingested.

Can you use Vicks Vaposteam while pregnant?

Vicks Vaposteam is a medicated liquid containing camphor that is used in Vicks humidifiers. It is not meant to be injested.

There is little data on whether it is safe or not, but according to one pregnant mother, her OB’s office said it was fine to use. WebMD states that inhaling a large amount of camphor is likely unsafe for adults, so it’s best to call your doctor for further advice.

Can you take Vicks cough syrup while pregnant?

Vicks cough syrup is sold under the DayQuil and NyQuil brands. These cough syrups have some ingredients that are safe to use while pregnant and other’s that are not. Alcohol is listed as an inactive ingredient in some NyQuil products which has high potential risks during any stage of pregnancy.

You can refer to this chart which explains which ingredients are safe, but it’s best to consult with your health care provider to be sure.

Are Vicks lozenges safe for pregnancy?

Vicks makes two types of lozenges, one with benzocaine and one without. Normally throat lozenges are safe for pregnancy, but doctors recommend that you should only use those with benzocaine as needed and it should be limited to 2 days.

Can Vicks hurt an infant?

Vicks Vaporub should not be applied to children under the age of 2 and is not safe for infants. Children are much more likely to ingest the rub which can become toxic in large amounts.

Is steam inhalation safe during pregnancy?

Yes steam inhalation is safe during pregnancy. You can inhale steam with or without oils to provide nasal congestion relief.

However, you should avoid saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms as they can raise your body temperature and cause your heart to work harder than it already is.

The Bottom Line

Pregnant woman coughs into napkin on the couch while huddled under blanket.

There are several Vicks products on the market and only some are safe for pregnant women. Stick to the Vaporub, the Vicks Inhaler, and First Defense Nasal Spray. Consult your doctor for medical advice about other Vicks products and avoid those with known harmful ingredients.

Vicks rub is safe during pregnancy when applied according to instructions and is not ingested.

Want More?

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Your Turn

Did I answer all your questions about whether Vicks is safe during pregnancy? Let me know in the comments and let me know how far along you are in your pregnancy too!

Pinterest graphic with text and tub of Vicks Vaporub with woman sick during pregnancy.