Fire safety in your home - Emollient and skin creams

It's important to be aware of the fire safety risks if you or a person you care for needs to use emollient and skin creams - here's how to reduce potential fire risks.

Emollient and skin creams are an important and effective treatment used to prevent or treat dry skin conditions like:

  • Eczema
  • Bed sores
  • Ulcers
  • Psoriasis

They come in a variety of forms: creams, lotions, ointments, gels or sprays . They can also include soap alternatives. They may be water-based, contain paraffin or natural oils. All cover the skin with a protective film to reduce water loss.

Emollients and skin creams alone are not flammable. However, a build up of emollient/skin cream residue (even from just one application) on fabrics such as bedding, clothing and dressings, can increase flammability. These are especially a fire safety concern when used by people who spend extended periods in a bed or armchair due to illness or impaired mobility.

If you care for someone who needs emollient and skin creams, lotions or gels, or if you use these products yourself, you can help to keep them and yourself safe by understanding and reducing the related risks.

Anyone using emollients or skin creams regularly should keep well away from fire, naked flames or heat sources. A build-up of residue on bedding, clothing and dressings can increase flammability.

Wash regularly

Wash fabrics daily at the highest temperature recommended by the manufacturer with plenty of detergent to reduce the build-up of skin cream; but, please remember, whilst washing at high temperatures might reduce the build-up, it does not remove it completely and there may still be a danger.


Please be aware, emollients can also transfer from skin onto the fabric of furniture, cushions, and blankets when you are sitting or lying on it.


If you are wearing clothing or a bandage that has been in contact with an emollient do not smoke. If this is not possible, please take steps to ensure you are safe, such as using a flameless lighter or e-cigarette.


Emollient users should also avoid cooking and any naked flames or heat source (such as, gas, halogen, electric bar or open fire) whilst wearing clothing or dressings that have been in contact with emollients or emollient treated skin.

We can provide more specialist advice based on the person you care for home and individual needs during a Safe and Well Visit. As part of the visit we may fit free smoke alarms if the person you care for needs them.