Does Vicks VapoRub get rid of stretch marks?

This definitely sounds too good to be true but you never know unless you go to a professional, right? Is there any truth to the claim that Vicks VapoRub can erase stretch marks?


F, 41, Minnesota

Stretch marks, or striae, are a form of scarring which occur when the skin stretches rapidly. They form when the dermis, or the middle layer of skin which maintains the skin's shape and elasticity, expands more than it can tolerate. The connective fibres in the skin ultimately break, which interferes with collagen production. Stretch marks are often associated with pregnancy, obesity, puberty and sudden weight gain from physical activities such as bodybuilding. They have an appearance similar to tiger stripes on the skin.


Vicks VapoRub is a product formulated to help alleviate cough and cold symptoms. It is not designed to treat skin issues, but does contain oils that may both moisturize and help stretched skin feel softer. Some individuals rub Vicks into their skin, then wrap the affected area in cling wrap, in the belief that it will eliminate stretch marks. There is, however, no evidence suggesting it’s possible to reduce the appearance of stretch marks by using Vicks, nor do the makers of Vicks claim any such benefit.

There are many anecdotes about how certain home remedies constitute effective treatments for stretch marks and skin conditions. Baking soda added to water, vitamin E, coconut oil, lemon juice, egg whites, castor oil and argan oil have all been touted as successful topical agents that can be massaged onto the skin to reduce stretch marks.

However, a scientific inquiry published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2014 concluded that there is no evidence that regular application of a topical agent successfully prevents or reduces the appearance of stretch marks. While you are unlikely to harm your skin by using any of these products, it’s highly improbable you will see any dramatic improvement by rubbing these creams or oils into the affected area.

If you wish to pursue a clinically proven method of stretch mark removal, consider booking a consultation with a dermatologist. Laser surgery is a highly effective stretch mark treatment, and in some cases, will eradicate stretch marks entirely. A successful treatment largely depends on factors such as the prevalence and age of the marks in question--older stretch marks are usually more challenging to treat. Each case is unique, however, so some patients may require more laser surgery sessions than others.