Cold afflicted children treated with vapor rub get improved sleep and overcome night-time cough and congestion, a study said.

“Upper respiratory infections are the most common acute illnesses in the world," said Ian Paul, M.D., M.Sc., associate professor of pediatrics and public health sciences, Penn State College of Medicine. "Symptoms caused by these infections are disruptive for children, and often disturb sleep for both ill children and their parents, with an impact on subsequent daytime activities. Safe and effective, evidence-based treatments are desperately needed by parents and healthcare providers for children”

There is no treatment for Cold that is safe, effective and supported by solid evidence.

In a partially double blinded and randomized study scientists recruited 138 children, 2 to 11 years of age with clear symptoms of cold. Children were grouped to three classes based on treatment administered to them - either Vicks VapoRub or petroleum jelly placebo. Control sample set was not treated with any drug. The medication was extraneously applied by 30 minutes of neck and chest massaging before bedtime.

The medical staff was unaware of the contents in the sealed envelope they distributed to parents. Before massaging the children, parents had to apply vapor rub between their nose and upper lip. This way, they fail to detect if they administered vapor rub or placebo to their child. An empty specimen cup was contained in the sealed envelope given to parents of no-treatment group.

Levels of cough, sleep, congestion and runny nose in children was reported in the second survey parents had to complete the following day. Greater relief was seen in vapor rub group. Parents of this group also had better sleep. Vapor rub group fared better than no treatment group except in runny nose. Compared to petroleum jelly group, vapor rub group demonstrated improved sleep in children and parents and better combined symptom score. Scores of petroleum jelly group and no treatment group were similar.

In the past, Dr. Paul has studied effect of oral, over-the-counter drugs used for treatment for cold, especially dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine."Vapor rubs have been used for generations, but this study demonstrates that this therapy is indeed effective," he said.