Emollients and fire safety

Emollients are a type of moisturiser used to help treat skin conditions. They can contain ingredients such as, paraffin, shea and cocoa butter, beeswax, lanolin or mineral oils

They can be a cream, lotion or ointment. You can find them in a pump dispenser, spray, tube or tub.

Emollients cover skin with a protective film trapping in the moisture. Your doctor can prescribe them or you can buy them without a prescription at a pharmacy or chemist. They are often used over long periods of time to treat and prevent:

  • dry skin, eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis
  • open ulcers and sores (on those who are less mobile or bedbound).

Fire risk of emollients

Emollients are flammable. This means they can catch fire easily.

People who smoke are more at risk of fire. Cigarettes or a naked flame could set fire to the cream that’s on your skin or soaked into bedding, bandages or clothing.

Other fire risks are, drying clothing that has emollient soaked in, for example, over radiators, near fires or tumble drying.Emollient creams and lotions with fire warning label



When using an emollient there may be a fire safety warning on the label, but not all products have a warning.



Other people more at risk of fires are people

  • over the age of 60
  • smokers
  • with restricted mobility
  • with a care plan in place

Using emollients safely

Some simple changes to your behaviour is the safest way to avoid fire.

When wearing clothing, bandages or bedding that has emollient on it do not:

  • smoke
  • cook
  • sit next to open fires or heaters

Remember, machine washing does not always remove emollients from fabrics. There is still a risk that fabric can catch fire, even after washing.

Local help and support

Contact Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service. They can arrange to visit your home to check for fire risks and help with smoke alarms. They will give you fire safety information and advice.

The Fire Service also offer Safe & Well visits for people over the age of 65.  They can check for hazards in your home that could lead to you falling and getting hurt. They can help with advice and make small changes or provide some small pieces of equipment to help you stay safe at home.

What to do in case of a fire

If you accidentally find yourself fire, Stop, Drop and Roll.

Call 999

Read more on Emergency services and Fire safety in your home

Thank you to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service for their help to write this information.

Last updated: April 28, 2023