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Chest rub, cold rub, or vapor/vapour rub is a mentholated topical petrolatum-based gel intended to assist with minor medical conditions that temporarily impair breathing, including the common cold. It is applied to the chest, often immediately before sleeping.

Originally formulated by Vicks as its signature product, VapoRub, cold rubs are now manufactured by other pharmaceuticals under various brand names. The word Vicks, and less commonly, VapoRub are still used as genericized references to this product regardless of manufacturer or brand.


A single study of vapor rub found that it improved cough and cold symptoms more than a control in children with the common cold.[1] Side effects included mild irritation of the skin where it was applied.[1] The study was funded by Procter & Gamble, the owner of Vicks.[2]

See alsoEdit

  • Vicks VapoRub — an article much longer than this one, which discusses one brand of chest rub commonly available in the US


  1. ^ a b "Vapor Rub, Petrolatum, and No Treatment for Children With Nocturnal Cough and Cold Symptoms -- Paul et al., 10.1542/peds.2010-1601 -- Pediatrics". November 8, 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Vapor rub relieves cold symptoms for children, helps them sleep better". Retrieved 25 January 2013.