This questionable health claim is rubbing Vicks the wrong way.
Procter & Gamble’s
Vicks VapoRub cold-symptom suppressant was trending on Twitter on Monday morning after a woman shared that she was using a bottle of the ointment that expired in January 1987 to treat her son.
“My son has been sick (not Covid) and shout out to my mom, who loaned us the SAME pot of Vicks she used to use on me growing up,” tweeted a woman under the name Heather Chacon on Sunday, along with a photo of the vintage glass VapoRub bottle. “Rest assured I did use this and it did indeed help. Vintage Vicks for the win.”
Her original post has been liked about 130,000 times and drawn more than 2,000 comments in just 24 hours. And it drew a number of people to respond with claims that they are also using decades-old bottles of Vicks — and in ways that counter the over-the-counter ointment’s safety instructions, much to the parent company’s chagrin.
While P&G and Vicks were not immediately available for comment, the official VapoRub Twitter account discouraged anyone from using any expired Vicks products. “Heather, we’re sorry your son is sick, and hope he’s feeling better soon,” the post read. “The safety of your family is very important to us, and while we appreciate your mom’s confidence in VapoRub, we recommend that you don’t use an expired product.”
And P&G’s official Twitter account also responded: “We adore you’ve discovered VapoRub is helping you during these unprecedented times. We deeply encourage you to tweet our VapoRub specialists at @VapoRub to make sure this is safe, since this jar is beyond the expiration date.”
The folks managing VapoRub’s Twitter account were having a busy Monday. The account shared multiple posts reminding followers that Vicks should not be applied in or around the nose or mouth, as some users tweeted they were doing. And: No, Vicks is not recommended to be used on pets to treat ticks, either, the company said.
Per P&G’s website, Vicks VapoRub Topical Cough Suppressant is recommended for ages 2 and up to treat coughing or to soothe minor aches and pains in muscles and joints. It should only be applied up to three or four times a day. And the frequently-asked-questions site notes that, yes, Vicks VapoRub can expire. “Do not use Vicks VapoRub beyond the expiration date on the package.”
And speaking of misinformation spreading like wildfire on Twitter, a fake news report that Walmart would accept the litecoin cryptocurrency also went viral on Monday.