Can Vicks Cause Miscarriage? (Safety During Pregnancy)

In the realm of health and wellness, there is often a plethora of do’s and don’ts, especially when it concerns pregnancy. One popular household product often at the center of such discussions is Vicks VapoRub and other Vicks products. You have likely heard various opinions, from old wives’ tales to online forum discussions, on the safety of using these products. Can Vicks cause miscarriage? In this blog post, we are going to delve into the information you need to know in order to protect both yourself and your growing baby.

During pregnancy, your immune system is weakened due to the natural changes your body undergoes. From the first trimester all the way to the third trimester,  your body is working hard to support the development of a new life. This makes you more vulnerable to illnesses such as common colds, coughs, flu, and congestion. As a result, many soon-to-be mothers turn to over-the-counter products and cold medications for relief. So are Vicks products safe to use during pregnancy?  Read on to find out what you need to know.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not give medical advice.  Always check with your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you have about pregnancy.

What is Vicks VapoRub?

Vicks VapoRub is commonly used to provide temporary relief from coughs, runny nose, congestion, and muscle aches. It can help with common cold symptoms and flu symptoms such as stuffy nose, coughing, and headaches. Symptoms that Vicks cannot help with include allergies, asthma, or bronchitis. Vicks is designed for short-term use in small amounts and is not typically recommended for long-term treatment. 

The Vicks product works by producing a cooling sensation that helps ease discomfort and promote relaxation. You can put it on your chest, throat, or back for maximum relief. 

An active ingredient means it is the substance in the medicine that has an effect on your body. The active ingredients include:

  • Menthol: A natural compound found in mint plants, menthol has a cooling effect on the skin and can help relieve congestion.
  • Camphor: Derived from the wood of the camphor tree, this ingredient is often used topically to alleviate pain and itching.
  • Eucalyptus oil: This essential oil comes from the leaves of eucalyptus trees and is known for its antibacterial and decongestant properties.

An inactive ingredient means it is  the substance that does not have an effect on your body. The inactive ingredients include: 

  • Cedarleaf oil: An antiseptic and analgesic ingredient.
  • Nutmeg oil: Known for its calming effects, nutmeg oil can help with restlessness and insomnia.
  • Thymol: This compound has antimicrobial properties and is often used in products to help kill germs.
  • Turpentine oil: Has a warming effect when applied topically and is often used to help with pain and inflammation.

While many of these ingredients have been used for centuries in traditional medicine, their safety during pregnancy is still a topic of debate. It is important to read the label and consult your medical professionals if you are unsure whether Vicks is safe for your specific condition.

A sick woman lays in bed.  She holds a kleenex to her nose and has a pile of kleenex next to her on the bed.

Can You Use Other Vicks Products During Pregnancy?

Besides the Vicks VapoRub, there are other products in the Vicks line that you may be considering using during pregnancy. Here is a breakdown of these products and their potential effects.

  • Vicks Sinex: One of the main ingredients is oxymetazoline, which is not recommended for use during pregnancy due to its potential to cause birth defects.
  • Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil Products: These products contain several different ingredients, so it is important to check the label. Some versions may include acetaminophen, which is generally considered safe in pregnancy when taken as directed. However, other versions may also contain pseudoephedrine or dextromethorphan, which should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Vicks Vaporizers and Humidifiers: These products are generally considered safe for pregnant people to use. However, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and maintain proper cleaning and maintenance of the device.
  • Vicks Inhaler: This product contains levmetamfetamine, which is not recommended for use during pregnancy due to its potential to cause birth defects.

Any new medications can contain potential side effects, so the safest way to use Vicks products during pregnancy is with the guidance of your healthcare provider.

Can Vicks Cause Miscarriage?

The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) classifies Vicks VapoRub as a Category C medication. This means it has not been proven to be safe or harmful for a pregnant woman to use. This is mainly due to the lack of clinical studies on its effects on pregnant women and their unborn babies. This classification does not mean that Vicks will automatically cause a miscarriage or harm your baby, but rather that there is not enough evidence to definitively say it is safe.

Vicks products have not been directly linked to miscarriage. However, some of the ingredients in these products may pose potential risks to your developing fetus. For example, Vicks Sinex contains oxymetazoline which has been associated with birth defects when used in high doses. 

Phenylephrine hydrochloride is another ingredient found in some cold medications. It may also increase the risk of miscarriage if used in high doses. It is important to note that these risks are primarily associated with high doses and continued use.

The risk of miscarriage can potentially be increased if you are using a Vicks product in combination with other medications. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any new product or  OTC product during pregnancy.

Risks of Using Vicks During Pregnancy

Vicks products are generally considered safe for use by pregnant women. However, there are still some potential adverse effects to keep in mind. The risk of birth defects is low when using Vicks, but it is still important to use caution and follow the recommended dosage on the label. This will ensure you are protecting both your health and your baby’s health as much as possible.

  • Ingestion: While Vicks VapoRub is not intended for consumption, there have been cases where pregnant women have mistakenly ingested the product. This can lead to serious side effects, such as liver damage and breathing difficulties.
  • Allergic Reactions: If you have a known allergy to any of the active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub, it is best to avoid using it during pregnancy. It may cause an allergic reaction that could harm both you and your unborn child.
  • Skin irritation: Some pregnant women may experience skin irritation or sensitivity when using Vicks VapoRub. If you notice any redness, rash, or discomfort after application, discontinue use and consult with your healthcare provider.
  • Certain medical conditions: If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before using Vicks products. Certain ingredients may interact with medications or exacerbate certain conditions. High blood pressure, heart disease, and thyroid disorders should be taken into consideration before using Vicks.

It is always best to consult with your healthcare provider before using any over-the-counter medication. This includes any cold medicines, nasal decongestant, or other oral treatments during pregnancy.

Safe Alternatives to Vicks During Pregnancy

If you are looking for alternative ways to relieve nasal congestion and other symptoms during pregnancy, here are a few safe options:

  • Saline Nasal Spray: This natural solution can help clear congestion without any harmful side effects. Salt water is safe to use during pregnancy and can be found in most drugstores.
  • Warm Compress: Placing a warm compress on your chest or back can provide relief for muscle soreness. Just make sure the compress is not too hot.
  • Steam: Steam inhalation from a hot shower or bowl of hot water with a few drops of eucalyptus essential oils can also provide relief for a blocked nose.
  • Honey and Lemon: Mix equal parts honey and lemon juice for a natural cough suppressant. This should not be given to infants or young children under one year old, but it is considered safe for pregnant women.
  • Nasal strips: These adhesive strips can be placed on the bridge of your nose. They are a great option to help open up nasal passages and alleviate congestion.
  • Cough drops or throat lozenges: Look for natural options that contain ingredients such as honey or lemon to soothe a sore throat.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids can help thin mucus and reduce irritation in the throat. Hydration also helps increase your body’s immune response to fight off any infections.
  • Prenatal vitamins: Cold medications should never be a substitute for prenatal vitamins. Make sure to continue taking your prescribed prenatal vitamins to ensure proper nutrition for both you and your baby.

If your cough is persistent or accompanied by other symptoms, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. It is always important for expectant mothers to consult with their healthcare provider before trying any new remedies during pregnancy. They can help guide you in making the best decisions for your health and the health of your developing baby.

A sick woman in a blue sweater holds a cup of hot tea with lemon.


In conclusion, while Vicks Vapor Rub can provide temporary relief during any stage of pregnancy, it is important to use with caution and consult with your health care provider beforehand. They can give you a list of safe medications and let you know which harmful ingredients you should avoid. There are also several alternative options and natural remedies available that are deemed safe for pregnant women depending on your specific symptoms. Your health and the health of your baby should always be top priority. Make sure to take all necessary precautions and continue taking good care of yourself and your unborn baby by making informed decisions about the products you use. Enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy journey!

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