Regulators have warned that some skin creams when dried on to fabric, can create a highly flammable combination that can cause serious injury and death.
Emollient skin creams are used by thousands of people every day to manage dry, itchy or scaly skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and ichthyosis. They are easily transferred from skin on to clothing and bedding. When fabric with dried-on cream comes into contact with a naked flame, the resulting fire burns quickly and intensely and can result in serious injury or death.
The risk 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.
These creams are vital in helping to manage dry skin conditions. The creams alone are not flammable, nor are they flammable when on the body. Healthcare professionals should continue to recommend them for chronic dry skin conditions and those using them should continue to do so as directed while remaining alert to the risk of fire when dried on to fabric.
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.