Does Vicks VapoRub help with hair growth?

Vicks VapoRub is a topical ointment made by Procter & Gamble that is commonly used to temporarily relieve cough and cold symptoms. Its active ingredients include camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol, which provide a cooling and soothing sensation when applied to the skin.

In recent years, some people have begun using Vicks VapoRub as an alternative treatment for hair growth, with many claiming it can help improve hair thickness and speed up growth. Proponents of using Vicks for hair growth suggest that it works by improving circulation to the scalp and stimulating hair follicles. Some also claim the tingling sensation induced by Vicks provides nourishment to hair roots.

However, there is limited scientific evidence to support Vicks as an effective hair growth treatment. Most claims of its benefits for hair are anecdotal. Research is needed to validate whether ingredients like camphor and menthol can actually improve hair growth when applied topically.

How Could Vicks VapoRub Potentially Help With Hair Growth?

There are a few theoretical ways that Vicks VapoRub could potentially help improve hair growth:

– Increased blood circulation to the scalp – When applied topically, the camphor and menthol in Vicks cause a cooling, tingling sensation as they stimulate nerve endings. This may increase blood flow to the area, which could deliver more nutrients to hair follicles and promote growth. Improved circulation may also carry away waste and toxins.

– Stimulation of hair follicles – The menthol and camphor in Vicks are known as vasodilators, meaning they cause blood vessels to dilate or open up. By increasing blood flow to hair follicles, vasodilators like menthol may stimulate growth. The tingling sensation they cause could also play a role.

– Anti-inflammatory effects – Both menthol and camphor have anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing inflammation around hair follicles, they may create an environment more conducive to healthy hair growth. Inflammation can inhibit follicle growth and even cause hair loss.

– Antifungal properties – Vicks contains thymol, an ingredient with antifungal properties. By preventing fungal infections on the scalp, it may support a healthy environment for hair growth. Fungal infections can damage hair follicles.

However, these potential mechanisms are mostly theoretical. There is currently a lack of direct research demonstrating that Vicks can actually increase circulation to the scalp or directly stimulate hair follicles when applied topically. The concentration of active ingredients may also be too low to have a meaningful effect.

What Does the Research Say About Vicks for Hair Growth?

There have been very few scientific studies examining whether Vicks VapoRub can actually improve hair growth. Here is a summary of the limited research:

– A 1986 study found that topically applied menthol increased blood flow to the skin of Wistar rats. This suggests it may improve circulation when applied to the scalp. However, rat skin differs from human skin, and blood flow was not directly measured on the scalp.

– A 2001 study found that peppermint and thyme essential oils, when combined into a hair growth formulation, increased the number of follicles and hair depth somewhat after 4 weeks of use on rabbits. Thyme contains thymol, one of the active ingredients in Vicks. However, the effects were relatively small and it is unknown if results would translate to humans.

– A small 2016 study had 10 participants apply different essential oil formulations containing thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood to their scalp daily for 7 months. The thyme group saw a significant increase in hair count compared to control. This may lend some support for Vicks due to its thymol content, but more research is needed.

– A 2019 literature review concluded that some essential oils including peppermint, lavender, and rosemary show potential for improving hair growth based on preliminary studies. However, there was insufficient evidence to draw definitive conclusions about efficacy and safety.

Overall, while some early research on ingredients like menthol, thyme, and peppermint provide a theoretical basis, there is currently insufficient clinical evidence to conclude that Vicks VapoRub increases hair growth in humans. Larger scale studies directly testing Vicks formulas on the scalp are needed.

Possible Risks and Side Effects of Using Vicks on Hair

When applying any product to the scalp, potential side effects and risks should be considered. Possible downsides of using Vicks for hair growth include:

– Skin irritation – Vicks contains ingredients like camphor and menthol that can sometimes irritate skin when applied topically, especially if used excessively. Contact dermatitis has occurred in some cases when Vicks is used on the face or under the nose.

– Respiratory risks if inhaled – Breathing in menthol and camphor vapors can cause throat swelling, coughing, and respiratory distress in some cases. Care should be taken to avoid inhaling when applying Vicks to the scalp.

– Eye irritation – Getting Vicks too close to the eyes can cause burning, stinging, and inflammation of the eyes. It should not be applied near the forehead or hairline.

– Toxicity at high concentrations – Very high concentrations of camphor and menthol can be toxic. However, the levels present in Vicks are low enough to be safe when used occasionally and correctly. Still, ingesting Vicks orally could be hazardous.

– Allergic reactions – Those with sensitivities to ingredients like camphor, menthol, or eucalyptus oil may experience allergic responses when using Vicks, ranging from mild to severe. Discontinue use if any irritation occurs.

– Lack of FDA regulation – The FDA does not regulate or monitor the use of Vicks for hair growth. Its safety and efficacy as a hair treatment are unproven, so use it with caution. Consult a dermatologist first if concerned.

For the majority of people, using small amounts of Vicks on the scalp periodically is unlikely to cause significant issues. But those with sensitive skin or allergies may want to exercise particular caution or avoid using it on the scalp altogether after consulting their doctor.

How to Apply Vicks to Your Scalp and Hair

If you do wish to try using Vicks VapoRub for potential hair benefits, here are some tips on application:

– Clean your scalp thoroughly before applying Vicks to remove any dirt, oil, or product buildup. Dry your scalp and hair completely.

– Scoop out a small amount of Vicks onto your fingertips – usually about the size of a dime. Too much can increase risks of skin irritation.

– Rub the Vicks thoroughly between your palms to warm it up before applying it to your scalp. Do not apply directly from the jar.

– Start applying to the back of the scalp first. Gently massage the Vicks onto your scalp using small circular motions with your fingertips. Avoid getting too close to your forehead and eyes.

– Continue massaging into the sides and top of your scalp until all areas are covered in a thin, even layer of Vicks. Move your hair out of the way to access your full scalp.

– Once applied, leave the Vicks on for 30-60 minutes before washing out with shampoo. Only leave on for a few minutes if you experience any irritation.

– Wash your hair as normal with shampoo 1-2 times to fully remove the Vicks residue. Make sure it is rinsed out completely after.

– Limit Vicks applications to once or twice per week at most. Daily use increases your risk of skin irritation and side effects. Monitor your scalp for any unusual reactions.

– Talk to your doctor before using if you have sensitive skin, allergies, respiratory issues, or any medical conditions. Discontinue use if irritation occurs.

With proper application and precautions, using Vicks for hair growth likely won’t cause major issues for most people. But remember that its benefits are unproven, so adjust frequency based on your individual reaction.

Other Ways to Use Vicks for Hair Health

While Vicks may not directly increase hair length or thickness, some find it beneficial in other ways related to scalp and hair health when used sparingly and correctly:

– Helping clear buildup – The menthol in Vicks can help provide a tingling, cooling sensation that feels stimulating. Some users feel this helps clear away any residue or product buildup on the scalp.

– Dandruff relief – The anti-inflammatory and antifungal effects of ingredients like menthol and thymol may help relieve symptoms of dandruff when rubbed onto the scalp. Always diagnosis dandruff with a dermatologist instead of self-treating.

– Dry/itchy scalp relief – For some individuals, massaging small amounts of Vicks onto the scalp provides a soothing sensation that temporally relieves itchiness and dryness. Be cautious of skin reactions.

– Preventing hair loss – By supporting scalp health and circulation, some claim Vicks helps curtail hair loss related to damage and clogged follicles. But no research proves it prevents balding or thinning.

– Covering thinning spots – For those with temporary thinning spots on the scalp, applying Vicks can make the hair appear slightly thicker in those areas due to its density and color. But this effect is only temporary.

Keep in mind that most uses of Vicks for the scalp and hair are anecdotal, not scientifically confirmed. Proceed with caution, discontinue use if any irritation occurs, and see a dermatologist if you have persistent scalp/hair conditions.

Other Home Remedies for Hair Growth

While evidence is lacking for Vicks, there are some other home remedies for which limited studies show modest hair growth potential:

Onion juice – Onion juice may modestly improve hair growth when applied topically, likely by increasing sulfur content. However, irritation is common.

Rosemary oil – Early studies show rosemary oil slightly increases hair count and thickness when regularly massaged into the scalp. May increase circulation.

Green tea – Contains antioxidants that may support hair follicle health. Also has anti-inflammatory effects. Oral or topical use may offer modest benefits.

Coconut oil – Provides fatty acids and nutrients. No strong evidence of hair growth, but may temporarily improve hair shaft smoothness and shine.

Ginseng – Both oral supplements and topical forms may stimulate follicles. Limited evidence but relatively safe. Check for interactions with other herbs or medications if ingesting.

Aloe vera – Its proteolytic enzymes repair dead skin cells on scalp. Also acts as a conditioner. May reduce dandruff and inflammation.

However, the general research consensus is that no home remedies provide significant hair regrowth effects for those with male/female pattern baldness. See a dermatologist for clinical treatment. Home remedies are better for temporary cosmetic effects like shine.

Medical Hair Growth Treatments

For those with medically diagnosed hair loss conditions like alopecia or female/male pattern baldness, effective medical hair regrowth treatments include:

Minoxidil – Topical solution that prolongs anagen (growth) phase and enlarges follicles. Brands like Rogaine have strongest clinical evidence of efficacy and FDA approval. Can cause irritation.

Finasteride – Oral medication that treats hair loss by blocking DHT hormones that shrink follicles. Proven effective but can have hormonal side effects. Requires prescription.

Ketoconazole shampoo – Reduces scalp inflammation and flaking. Kills fungi that can cause dandruff and affect follicles. Often used alongside other treatments.

Microneedling – Dermarolling creates tiny wounds in scalp to stimulate healing factors that encourage hair regrowth. Shows promise but large studies needed.

PRP injections – Injects platelet-rich plasma extracted from your own blood into scalp. Contains growth factors to rejuvenate follicles. Evidence is limited so far.

Low-level laser therapy – Cold laser light applied to scalp may help follicles remain in growth phase longer. Results vary greatly. Requires multiple clinic sessions.

Hair transplants – Dermatologists surgically transplant DHT-resistant follicles from the back of the head to balding areas. Provides permanent results when done correctly.

For optimal medical treatment, consult a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in scientifically proven hair loss therapies. Avoid unproven “miracle cures.” Treatment success varies based on individual factors.

Should You Try Vicks for Hair Growth?

The bottom line is that there is currently limited evidence that Vicks VapoRub can increase hair growth or stop hair loss. A few very small studies show some related essential oils like menthol and thyme may have minor effects, but no large controlled trials have directly tested the formulas in Vicks. Its benefits for hair remain anecdotal.

Using small amounts of Vicks occasionally as a scalp and hair treatment is unlikely to cause harm for most people. But you should discontinue use if any skin irritation or other adverse effects occur. Avoid getting Vicks near eyes, inhaling it, or using it excessively.

Check with a doctor before trying it if you have sensitive skin or respiratory issues. Relying on unproven remedies may also delay seeking effective medical treatment if you have clinically diagnosed hair loss. Consult a dermatologist to discuss science-backed options.

While Vicks may temporarily help soothe itchy or dry scalps for some, it should not replace standard hair care. Maintain hair health by eating a balanced diet, limiting harmful heat/chemical treatments, reducing stressors, and using a gentle shampoo and conditioner suited to your hair type. Further research is still needed on Vicks. Manage expectations and use it cautiously.

The Bottom Line

Despite widespread anecdotal claims about Vicks VapoRub helping increase hair growth, there is currently limited clinical evidence to support its efficacy and safety as a hair loss treatment. The menthol, camphor, and other ingredients may provide a theoretical mechanism if applied to the scalp, but large scale studies directly testing Vicks formulas are still lacking.

Small, preliminary studies show minor hair growth effects from some related essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, and thyme when applied topically. However, the concentration and combinations of active ingredients varies greatly from these studies to over-the-counter products like Vicks.

Using Vicks occasionally and correctly as a scalp treatment is unlikely to cause major side effects for most people. But those with sensitive skin or respiratory conditions should exercise caution. Discontinue use if any irritation occurs, and consult a doctor before trying it if you have allergies or other medical concerns.

While Vicks may temporarily help soothe itchy, irritated scalps in some cases, it will not treat medically diagnosed hair loss conditions. See a licensed dermatologist for effective treatments like minoxidil, finasteride, and ketoconazole shampoo. Manage expectations with Vicks and do not use it excessively or rely on it solely for hair growth. More research is still needed.

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