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Paraffin-based skin products Posted on 15 Aug 2018

  • Paraffin-base skin products are widely prescribed and dispensed for various skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
  • They are safe to use but can soak into clothing, dressings and bedding leaving a flammable residue.
  • If exposed to a naked flame or a heat source, such as a cigarette, lighter, gas cooker, heater or fire, these saturated fabrics can catch fire; the paraffin residue will help the fire develop and spread rapidly which could result in serious injury or death.

What are paraffin-based skin products?

These products are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczemas and sores. Many of these products can also be purchased over the counter in chemists and supermarkets.

Are they safe to use?

Yes they are. We encourage their use as recommended by medical professionals.

Are they flammable?

No. If you put a match to a sample of paraffin-based skin product it would not ignite.

So, why should I be concerned?

Regular use of these products, over a number of days, can lead to them soaking into your clothing, bedding and bandages/dressings. If you then introduce an ignition or heat source such as

  • Accidentally, dropping a cigarette or a lighted match
  • Sitting too near to a gas, halogen or open fire
  • Catching your clothing on a hob when cooking.

You can cause a fire to develop, burn intensely and spread rapidly. This could lead to a serious injury or death. Nationally, there have been at least 8 deaths associated with paraffin-based skin products within the last 12 months (Feb 2018).

What can I do to make sure I’m safe?

  • Never smoke in bed
  • Do not smoke if there is any chance your clothing or dressings could be contaminated with these products
  • Do not cook if there is any chance your clothing or dressings could be contaminated with these products
  • Do not sit too close to any open fires, gas fires or halogen heaters
  • Wash your clothing and bedding daily at the highest temperature recommended by the fabric care instructions. This should reduce some of the contamination but may not remove it completely.

What can I do to make sure my friends and family are safe?

Share this information with them so that they are also aware of the potential risks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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