As of September 2015, Vicks does not sell a shower tablet on its U.S. website, but the company does sell VapoSteam, a product made for use in nebulizers, explains Vicks. The active ingredient in VapoSteam is 6.2 percent camphor, which acts as a cough suppressant and soothes sore throat and bronchial irritation due to the common cold.
Camphor is a well-established folk remedy, which people use for the treatment of many ailments, including arthritis, poison ivy, hemmorhoids, cold sores, and respiratory infections such as colds and flu, states WebMD. It acts mainly by stimulating blood flow and irritating nerves, thus acting as a "counterirritant" to decrease unpleasant sensations such as itching and pain. In some individuals, it also decreases the urge to cough.
Camphor is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in concentrations of 3 to 11 percent for use as a chest rub and as a topical ointment, reports WebMD. Most doctors think it is safe for adults to inhale camphor as a vapor as long as the concentration is low, states eMedicineHealth. The recommended dose is 1 tablespoon of VapoSteam diluted in 1 quart of water up to three times a day, according to Vicks.
Camphor is not recommended for use in children because they are more sensitive to its effects, says eMedicineHealth. Even in adults, ingesting camphor-containing products may cause serious side effects, including death.