Warning as skin creams linked to 40 fire deaths

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A group of skin creams containing paraffin have been linked to almost 40 fire deaths across Britain over the last decade.

The products which usually treat conditions like eczema and psoriasis can leave people at risk of setting themselves ablaze, according to the BBC.

If people use the creams regularly but do not often change clothes or bedding, paraffin residue can soak into the fabric - making it flammable.

Carol Hoe’s husband Philip died after accidentally setting himself on fire when sparks from a cigarette reacted with the emollient cream he was lathered in.

Mr Hoe, 60, died after suffering 90 per cent burns in 2006 as he was being treated for psoriasis.

Despite warnings going back more than 10 years, it has been discovered there have been 37 deaths in England since 2010 linked to the creams.

Speaking about the incident, Mrs Hoe, 66, said: “I got a phone call from the ward sister to say can you get to the hospital as soon as possible, Philip’s had an accident.

“Philip had caught fire. He had sneaked off onto a landing for a sneaky cigarette, a gust of wind must have caught the lighter, and it set fire to him.”

Within seconds Mr Hoe was engulfed in flames and he died shortly after being transferred to another hospital in Sheffield.

Mrs Hoe said: “When we got there, the staff came to me and told us he was covered with 90 per cent burns - there was nothing they could do.”

The coroner at his inquest drew attention to the dangers posed by skin creams - and the now defunct National Patient Safety Agency advised that paraffin-based products are easily ignited with a naked flame if used in large quantities.

The medicines regulator has updated its guidance and says all creams containing paraffin should carry a warning.

But more than a decade after her husband died, Carol says it’s too late.

She added: “To be quite honest I’m really angry because at the inquest, the coroner said that further steps should be taken to give people warnings about this.

“And for nearly 40 more deaths to happen after Philip - I just can’t understand it.”

The Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency later issued two more warnings, but deaths continued to occur.

In 2015, Christopher Holyoake, 63, died after he was set on fire because his bedding was covered in residue from dermatological cream E45.

When the flame from his cigarette lighter came into contact with the bedding, the residue acted as an accelerant - giving Mr Holyoake little chance of surviving the fire.

Following his inquest, the coroner wrote to the manufacturer of E45 - outlining her concerns there were no warnings on the packaging about the product being highly flammable.