Emollients, Dangers and Fire Risks

In a previous blog post, I covered ‘What are Emollients’ but in this post, I will be discussing the dangers and fire risks of using some emollients.

Emollients are prescribed by dermatologists and general practitioners (G.P.) to help treat eczema as their job is to lock in moisture and create a barrier on the skin.  However, what is not spoken about and wasn’t mentioned at any point to me during consultations, was the potential dangers and fire risks using emollients on the skin.

All emollients that contain paraffin (regardless of the concentration) pose a fire risk even though it is not always stated on the packaging or product. I do not remember ever seeing this on any of the packing or product during my eczema journey.   

It has more recently come to light the dangers and risks that emollients, containing paraffin, have on people. 

There is the danger that emollients containing paraffin could:

  • Come into contact with dressing or clothing,
  • Come in contact with a naked flame, 
  • Or come into contact with someone who smokes.

This could then cause a fire. 

This information must be disclosed to the adult that uses emollients on themselves or uses them on a child due to the potential fire risk. The person prescribing the medication should not leave it to the patient to read it. Often someone within the eczema community who is suffering badly with flare-ups may not think of reading up about this. 

In my opinion, it’s the responsibility of the prescriber to inform the patient and to make sure that they understand the fire risks.

I believe this is really important as this can potentially save lives and prevent trauma and in unfortunate circumstances, death. This also puts a strain on the NHS and the Fire service.

I’ve been to Boots, the chemist, and a pharmacist will ask the customer if they’re taking other medication. If this can be done, then why not in this case? Doctors or consultants should be informing patients about fire risks.

Fires can be caused by emollients that have come into contact with bedding, dressing gowns, nightwear and other types of fabric.

More dangers can also occur if you’re using a gas cooker and ovens. Click here for more information on the fire dangers which were documented on the bbc.co.uk

Here are some of the emollients that contain paraffin:

  • E45
  • Cetraben
  • Hydromol Ointment
  • Epaderm
  • Diprobase
  • 50:50
  • Aqueous Cream
  • Dermol Lotion

It’s quite worrying to hear and see these facts as I was oblivious to this for many years, desperate to get better through my eczema journey, but unaware of the potential risks, I mean it didn’t even cross my mind.

If you are using emollients it’s a good idea to avoid smoking, and being near a naked flame.

Written and posted by Amanda Roberts, the Founder of Icylda Skincare on 13th October 2020.

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