A fire warning has been issued over the danger posed by emollient creams used to treat eczema, psoriasis and ichthyosis.
The creams alone are not flammable, nor are they flammable on the body. But the risk is created from a build-up of the products dried onto clothing and bedding.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has partnered with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), Fire and Rescue Services and health charities to remind users not to smoke and to stay away from any naked flames.
Sarah Branch, director of MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines division, said: "We want to ensure that those who are at greatest risk, and their carers, understand the fire risk associated with the build-up of residue on clothing and bedding and take action to minimise the risk.”
A review has shown that those most at risk tend to be smokers over 60 with reduced mobility.
Rick Hylton, NFCC’s home safety committee lead, said: "We now know that all emollients, combined with factors such as smoking or mobility issues, pose potential fire risks and this applies to both paraffin and paraffin-free products. Washing fabrics does not fully remove this risk.
"This doesn’t mean people shouldn’t use these products but we urge people to follow the updated fire safety advice. If you use these products and smoke, don’t do so when wearing clothes or bandages that may have dried on emollients. Don’t smoke in bed as bedding may have residue on it and be careful around other heat sources such as gas, halogen or open fires and when cooking.
Anyone using an emollient or skin cream to treat a dry skin condition, is urged to follow this advice:
Do not smoke, use naked flames or get near to anything which may cause a fire whilst wearing clothing or a bandage that has been in contact with skin creams.
If this is not possible, you must take steps to ensure you are safe when you smoke or use naked flames. For example, by using a flameless lighter or e-cigarette, and removing long sleeved or baggy clothing before using a gas hob.
Change and wash clothes and bedding
Change and wash your clothes and bedding frequently to reduce the build-up of skin cream. However, remember that whilst washing your clothing and bedding even at high temperatures might reduce the build-up, it does not remove it completely and the danger may remain.
Keep cream off furniture
Be careful to make sure the skin cream does not get onto the fabric of armchairs or other furniture, cushions and blankets. Be aware that the cream can transfer from your skin onto the fabric of furniture when you are sitting or lying on it.
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