The Prescriber’s Letter reports that camphor-containing products such as Vicks VapoRubare now being used more frequently in children due to the recent warnings about NOT using cough and cold products with children. But using camphor products may NOT be a a good idea. Why?
Not only do studies show that camphor-containing products do not reliably relieve cough or congestion in children, but also, they can be toxic.
This information is positively shocking to most parents.
Yet, poison control centers report about 10,000 cases of camphor exposure in young children each year.
Most incidents occur when a child gets into a jar of medicated rub that has been left out. Ingesting just 2 to 4 teaspoons can deliver a toxic camphor dose to a small child.
If you insist on using a camphor product, be sure to do so only in children over 2 years.
Also, do not apply the topical camphor-containing product to broken or irritated skin or under a bandage — as this will increase the odds of absorption into the child’s system.
Also, do not apply these products in or beneath the nostrils. This may actually INCREASE mucus secretion and the risk of aspiration or systemic absorption.
So, what do I recommend for colds and cough in children? I’d go with the non-drug options of (1) plenty of liquids, (2) saline nasal drops, (3) gentle nasal suction, (4) topical nasal decongestant drops, if recommended by your child’s physician, and (5) a humidifier that keeps the child’s room humidity at 40 – 50%.