Is Vicks safe to use when pregnant?

Vicks Vaporub, Vicks Sinex, Vicks Cold & Flu Care and Vicks First Defence - expert advice on which are safe in pregnancy

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In a nutshell

Some Vicks products are safe during pregnancy, others are not

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The expert view

There are a few different Vicks products which aim to help when you have a cough, cold or stuffy nose – and each has different guidelines for use in pregnancy.

MFM’s GP Dr Philippa Kaye says: “I would avoid anything with ephedrine but using a rub or an oil in hot water to breathe in the steam which contains menthol or eucalyptus is likely to be OK. However, even breathing in the steam from plain water can relieve congestion.”

The main ingredient to look out for is phenylephrine hydrochloride – because it can reduce blood flow.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advises that “phenylephrine hydrochloride should be used with caution with patients with a history of pre-eclampsia because it has vasoconstrictive properties and may reduce placental perfusion (blood flow)”. This means you should definitely avoid it if you’ve previously had pre-eclampsia.

Safe Vicks products

  • Vicks Vaporub is safe for mums-to-be and helps relieve the symptoms of a blocked nose, sore throat and cough. It is available as an ointment for rubbing on the chest, throat or back, and can also be added to hot water and the vapours inhaled.
  • Vicks Inhaler looks like a little lip balm stick and contains menthol, camphor and pine needle oil, which work to help clear stuffiness – it’s safe to use when pregnant.
  • Vicks First Defence nasal spray doesn’t contain any active medical ingredients, but uses a microgel to trap any possible cold virus particles and stop them getting into your system, so it’s generally considered safe in pregnancy.

Not safe

  • Vicks Sinex decongestant capsules are not for use in pregnancy, as each contains 12.18mg phenylephrine hydrochloride.

Get doctor’s advice

  • Vicks Cold & Flu Care Medinite Complete Syrup is only for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding if your doctor has advised you to do so.
  • Vicks Sinex nasal spray range is supposed to be used with caution in pregnancy – so, check with your doctor who will know your individual medical history.

Mums on our forum say

“At night I just put Vicks on and also Olbas oil on a hot water bottle and lay in next to my bed. My other half laughs that our flat smells of Olbas and Vicks all the time.” Sarah24j

“I was told that I could sniff Olbas and Vicks but couldn’t apply it to the skin. Steaming over a bowl with Vicks in was certainly okay.” BusyBeemumdrum

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