Vicks VapoRub Vs. Tiger Balm: Which Is More Effective?

When it comes to the cold-flu season, relief is the number one sought-after thing. A sniffle may be the best excuse for grandma's chicken noodle soup, but no one wants a runny nose –  especially when it may be hard to differentiate between the coronavirus, cold, flu, and allergies. Another signature of the cold-flu season is the cooling relief of ointments. Vicks VapoRub is a classic over-the-counter remedy. It may be the first that comes to mind, but it seems Vicks has a competitor. Tiger Balm is a similar over-the-counter topical. It was created in the 1870s according to Insider, when it was developed by Chinese herbalist Aw Chu Kin.

According to Byrdie, Vicks VapoRub has been around since the 1900s. Although marketed for relieving cold symptoms, it has various uses in skincare. The VapoRub is a product from the brand that also brings us DayQuil and NyQuil. But how does the popular drugstore ointment stack up to its Tiger Balm competitor?

How the two compare

According to Very Well Health, Tiger Balm's active ingredients are camphor, menthol, cajuput oil, cassia oil, demetholized mint oil, and clove oil. It is topically applied to the skin to relieve stiffness, aches, and pains. Tiger Balm is safe to use as frequently as needed. Feel free to apply whenever a headache arises, even multiple times through your partner's nagging. After applying to affected areas, it can take up to 20 minutes before relief strikes.

Vicks VapoRub has three active ingredients: camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol, according to Medicine Net. It is topically applied to manage coughs, aches, and nasal congestion. To help relieve airways it is typically rubbed onto the chest. To relieve muscle pains it is directly applied to the affected areas. There are other unexpected ways to use Vicks too. These two topical pain relievers are very similar in ingredients and uses, but which is more effective?

Which is better

The number of active ingredients may have given away which treatment has a stronger fighting power. Tiger Balm is significantly more effective than Vicks VapoRub. According to Pearl River, Tiger Balm is seven times stronger than Vicks. Its 60% active components contrast to the low 8.6% of VapoRub. Tiger Balm's ingredients help with blood flow, inflammation, pain relief, warming, and cooling sensations, according to Insider. The majority of the active compounds serve a dual purpose, which is why this analgesic heat rub is so worthwhile.

There are some times when you should avoid using Tiger Balm. Medical News Today suggests forgoing the topical before and after you are exposed to intense heat, like a hot tub or sauna. It should only be used on the surface of the skin and not on mucous membranes, like the mouth. For burned and extremely dry skin you'll have to find another medication. But we have you covered on how to treat dry or dehydrated skin. So if you're looking for the most effective OTC topical, you know which to choose.