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Moisturising or Emollient creams

Last updated  20 March 2019

There is a fire safety risk from the frequent use of moisturing creams, also known as emollient creams, either by yourself or someone you care for. Here's how to reduce potential fire risks.

Emollient creams are moisturisers that can be used to prevent or treat dry skin conditions like:

  • Eczema
  • Bed sores
  • Ulcers
  • Psoriasis

They come in a variety of forms: creams, lotions or gels. All cover the skin with a protective film to reduce water loss. However because of what they are made of they can be very flammable, so are a fire safety concern, especially when used by people who spend extended periods in a bed or armchair due to illness or impaired mobility.

If you are restricted in your mobility and use these creams or care for someone who needs emollient creams, lotions or gels, you can help to  keep them safe by understanding and reducing the related risks. 

Anyone using paraffin-based emollients regularly should avoid smoking and keep well away from heat sources, such as heaters and open fires and from naked flames, such as candles, when these products are in contact with clothes, dressings or bandages as the build up of paraffin residue on bedding, clothing and dressings can increase the risk of bedding, clothing etc. catching fire.

Switch to emollient products which have the lowest possible petroleum or paraffin content or consider alternative water-based products. Speak to your GP or pharmacist for advice about what’s right for the person. These should cost no more than the paraffin based creams.

If possible you should also wash fabrics daily at the highest temperature recommended by the manufacturer with plenty of detergent.

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