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Emollients: risk of severe and fatal burns

The MHRA have issued new warnings about fire & burns risk with emollients. The new warnings state that ALL emollients may pose a risk of severe and fatal burns – regardless of paraffin content or concentration.

The MHRA provide the following advice for healthcare professionals:

  • there is a fire risk with all paraffin-containing emollients, regardless of paraffin concentration, and it also cannot be excluded with paraffin-free emollients. A similar risk may apply for other products which are applied to the skin over large body areas, or in large volumes for repeated use for more than a few days.
  • when prescribing, recommending, dispensing, selling, or applying emollient products to patients, instruct them not to smoke or go near naked flames because clothing or fabric such as bedding or bandages that have been in contact with an emollient or emollient-treated skin can rapidly ignite.
  • ensure patients and their carers understand the fire risk associated with the build-up of residue on clothing and bedding and can take action to minimise the risk.
  • be aware that washing clothing or fabric at a high temperature may reduce emollient build-up but not totally remove it.