Skin creams containing paraffin linked to fire danger

Creams containing paraffin that are used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis have been linked to 37 deaths in the UK since 2010.

When residue from liquid paraffin soaks into fabric it can become flammable, and could become a fire hazard for regular users of such creams who do not frequently change clothing or bedding.

The warning comes from a BBC Radio 5 Live investigation that aired yesterday and looked into two incidents in 2015 and one in 2006. In all three cases a man died by accidentally setting himself on fire when lighting a cigarette or pipe near fabric soaked in residue from paraffin-based products.

Liquid paraffin is used in creams to help treat dry skin conditions because it is believed to create a protective layer over the skin that helps retain hydration, fortifying skin’s natural moisture barrier.

The investigation could have an impact for salons that help clients to treat these conditions, as well as those that offer paraffin wax skin-softening treatments with manicures or pedicures.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency wants manufacturers to print a flammability warning on the packaging of creams containing any paraffin at all. Previously it only asked for a warning on products containing more than 50%.

This doesn’t, however, cover over-the-counter products such as E45, a popular dermatological cream that was involved in one of the 2015 deaths. Following a request from the coroner involved in the case, the product’s manufacturer has agreed to include a warning on some of its products from next month, said the BBC report.