Dr. Gott: Pure camphor, camphor oil unsafe for skin

 Dr. Gott: Pure camphor, camphor oil unsafe for skinAdvertisement

Q) A columnist in my newspaper claimed that you had endorsed Vicks VapoRub to treat nail fungus.

She thought that the thymol found in the petroleum jelly was the answer. I tried Vicks on my minor case of nail fungus with some success.

I know the characteristic smell comes mostly from the eucalyptus oil. It brought back a memory of when I was a child and my mother would put Campho-Phenique on a cold sore.

Sure enough, camphor is one of the active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub. to my surprise, Campho-Phenique is still available at my drugstore in its pure form. Applied with a cotton swab, the camphor oil penetrated under and around the nail.

Applied twice a day, in short order, my nail was clear. I would recommend using camphor full strength rather than dealing with the petroleum jelly. is this safe?

A) Vicks, as well as store and other generic forms of mentholated chest rubs, has been used successfully for many conditions, including nail fungus, plaque psoriasis, seborrheic keratoses, ringworm and neuropathy pain.

People ask why this works. I don’t know; I’m not really concerned with the why, just that it is inexpensive, safe and effective.

Campho-Phenique is a common over-the-counter product. It is primarily used to treat cold sores but may help with insect bites.

I am not sure what you mean by “Campho-Phenique is still available at my drugstore in its pure form.” Campho-Phenique is a prepared product.

The active ingredients are camphor and phenol. Inactive ingredients include colloidal silicon dioxide, eucalyptus, glycerin and light mineral oil.

Pure camphor or camphor oil should not be applied directly to skin. Campho-Phenique contains less than 11 percent camphor and even at that level can be irritating to the skin of sensitive individuals.

I can neither discourage nor encourage the use of the Campho-Phenique (or any generic or store brand of the product) as an alternative to a mentholated chest rub because I don’t know enough about it.

If any of my readers have tried it for nail fungus, let me know your results. I will print an update when I have enough feedback.

Q) My feet and ankles are red, purple and black. I am otherwise OK. I have asked many doctors about this, but don’t have an answer. I am a 75-year-old female.

A) Given your brief note, I cannot give specific advice. are you on any prescription or over-the-counter medications, supplements or herbs? Do you have a clotting disorder? when did the discoloration start? does anything make it better or worse?

See your primary-care physician. ask for blood work and testing. if your physician cannot help, have him or her suggest a specialist.

Write to Peter Gott, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10016.

<a href="http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110419/LIFESTYLES06/304199991/-1/LIFESTYLES07tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110419/LIFESTYLES06/304199991/-1/LIFESTYLES07Tue, 19 Apr 2011 04:18:50 GMT 00:00″>Dr. Gott: Pure camphor, camphor oil unsafe for skin

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