Emollient creams

Emollient creams are skin products used to treat dry skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

They can also be used for some patients who may be in bed for lengthy periods due to illness or impaired mobility, as they are at risk of bed sores or ulcers.

Emollient products come in a variety of forms - creams, lotions or gels. All cover the skin with a protective film to reduce water loss.

Regular use of these products, 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 to these materials, it can cause a fire to develop, burn intensely and spread rapidly.  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.

What can I do to make sure I’m safe?

  • Never smoke in bed

  • Do not smoke if there is any chance your clothing or dressings could be contaminated with these products

  • Do not cook if there is any chance your clothing or dressings could be contaminated with these products

  • Do not sit too close to any open fires, gas fires or halogen heaters

  • Wash your clothing and bedding daily at the highest temperature recommended by the fabric care instructions.

  • This should reduce some of the contamination but may not remove it completely.

Last updated: Monday 16 November 2020