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Fire Risk with Emollients


Fire Risk with Emollients


The build-up of emollients on clothing and fabrics e.g. bedding and bandages is associated with a risk of fire. 

When patients are being treated with a paraffin-based emollient product that is covered by a dressing or clothing, there is a danger that smoking or using a naked flame could cause dressings or clothing to catch fire.

risk of fire with emollients

Examples of paraffin-based emollients include:

  • white soft paraffin
  • white soft paraffin plus 50% liquid paraffin
  • emulsifying ointment

The risk is greater when these preparations are applied to large areas of the body, or when dressings or clothing become soaked with emollient. 


Advice for Patients 

Do not smoke, use naked flames or go near to anything else which may cause a fire whilst these products are in contact with your clothes, dressings or bandages.

Ensure clothes and bedding are washed at a high temperature and changed regularly as emollients soak into the fabrics.

When supporting people to use emollient creams, it is important to be aware of the risks. You might use emollient creams to help manage dry skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

If people using a paraffin-based emollient product cover it with a dressing or clothing, there's a danger that smoking or using a naked flame could cause these dressings or clothing to catch fire. There may also be reactions between emollients and fibres of dressings, clothing and items such as towels when used to carry out personal care.




'I am writing to congratulate you on your wonderful staff you have working for you at DMH.'

Patient, Catering / Porters / Domestics, Darlington Memorial Hospital