Emollient products such as creams, liquids or gels are widely used to treat skin conditions. Whilst they are safe to use, they are likely to soak into clothing, bathrobes and towels, bedding and dressings leaving a residue that makes the fabric highly flammable. This applies even with non-paraffin based emollient products. Anyone using emollients should not go near naked flames, smoking materials, cookers, or heaters.

It is important therefore to recognise and understand the following advice if you or someone in your home uses emollients:


  • Never smoke or allow others to smoke near you.
  • Never use a naked flame or ignition source such as matches, lighters and candles as your clothing could be contaminated by an emollient product.
  • Never cook whilst wearing clothing that may have been contaminated by emollients.
  • Never use paraffin or oil-based creams or liquids on your skin if you’re using oxygen equipment. Speak to your health professional or carer about using a water-based cream instead.


  • Always wash bedding, that could be contaminated, daily and at as high a temperature as possible to reduce emollient residue build up.
  • Always change and wash clothing on a daily basis, as the emollient product may have soaked into the fabric.
  • Always cover your furniture or airflow cushion with throws to avoid contamination of paraffin-based creams but ensure you wash the throws daily.


  • Avoid placing heated appliances such as electric blankets, hairdryers, heated rollers and tongs on or near airflow mattresses and cushions.
  • Avoid drying clothing near an ignition source such as an open fire or electric heater.


  • Remember to tell your health care professional or carer if there is a change in your medical or health condition, that may compromise fire safety within your home. For instance, if you are prescribed medication that can cause drowsiness, if your mobility declines significantly, or you experience memory issues.
  • Remember to share this information and advice with family and friends and carers
  • Remember emollient products such as creams, liquids and gels are safe to use and vital for the skin conditions they treat. The risk exists when a residue gets onto bedding, clothing or dressings. The dried residue will make the fabric much more flammable. If an ignition source such as a lighter, cigarette, candle or naked flame comes into contact with the fabric it could quickly start a fire that may result in serious injury or death.
  • Remember; washing fabrics clothing and bedding at the highest temperature recommended on the fabric care label will reduce the emollient residue but may not totally remove it. Therefore, remain cautious and stay away from fire.