Emollient skin products are widely prescribed and dispensed for various skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, bed sores and ulcers. They are safe to use but 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 saturated fabrics can catch fire; the residue will help the fire develop and spread rapidly which could result in serious injury or death.
They are moisturisers which may contain paraffin or other products like 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.
Not in isolation. If you put a match to a sample of emollient skin product it would not ignite.
Regular use of these products, which may or may not contain paraffin, 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:
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.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University, conducted an experiment to show the effects emollient creams have on ignition rates.
Their tests included three strips of cotton, one impregnated with a paraffin emollient, another with a non-paraffin emollient cream and one with no cream contamination. The experiment shows just how flammable materials with emollient residue on them are and also how much hotter they cause fires to burn. See the video below for the outcomes of this experiment.