Dispensers are being asked to highlight the fire risk associated with emollients, in a new MHRA campaign.
All skin creams, even those not based on paraffin, can become flammable when dried on to fabric, causing serious injury and death. According to the regulator, since 2010, more than 50 deaths and serious injuries have been linked to the use of emollient skin creams. A review has shown that those most at risk tend to be over 60, smokers and have reduced mobility.
The MHRA recommends anyone in this high-risk group, or their carers, should arrange a fire service assessment of their personal surroundings. They must exercise caution when close to naked flames or potential ignition sources (for example, lighting a cigarette).
Patients should be warned that flammability increases with every application of the cream as it transfers, dries and builds up on the fabric. Some cream remains even when the items are washed, so it’s important to minimise the risk in additional ways, such as removing long sleeved or loose clothing before cooking or using a safety lighter.
Labelling and product information for emollient products should include a warning about the fire hazard, with clear advice not to smoke or go near naked flames.