The use of paraffin based emollient skin creams, although generally safe to use, can become flammable when exposed to an ignition source, such as a naked flame, cigarette or heater. Emollient creams are often used for dry skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, bed sores and ulcers. With regular use, clothing, dressings, and bed sheets can become impregnated with the product. This build up of residue can become highly flammable and act as an accelerant when ignited.
To reduce the risk of this happening:
They are moisturisers which may contain paraffin, shea or cocoa butter, beeswax, lanolin, nut oil or mineral oils and they work by covering the skin with a protective film or barrier which keeps the moisture in.
Emollients are commonly prescribed by GPs, nurses and other clinicians over long periods of time to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and sores. Many of these products can also be purchased over the counter in chemists and supermarkets.
Yes they are. We encourage their use as recommended by medical professionals and the manufacturer’s instructions.
No. If you put a match to a sample of emollient skin product it would not ignite.
Regular use of these products, over a number of days, can lead to them soaking into your clothing, bedding and bandages/dressings. This residue then dries within the fabric. If you then introduce an ignition or heat source such as accidentally:
you can cause a fire to develop, burn intensely and spread rapidly. This could lead to a serious injury or death. Nationally, there have been at least 56 deaths associated with emollient skin products within the last 10 years.
Share this information with them so that they are also aware of the potential risks.
We know that emollient skin products are safe to use but they can soak into clothing, dressings and bedding leaving a flammable residue. If exposed to a naked flame or a heat source, such as a cigarette, lighter, gas cooker, heater or fire, these dried fabrics can catch fire. The emollient residue will help the fire develop and spread rapidly which could result in serious injury or death.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have conducted an experiment showing the effects of different materials impregnated with emollient creams using different ignition sources. See the video below for the outcomes of this experiment.