UK firefighters have warned eczema sufferers to be wary of the fire risk posed by their paraffin-based skin creams, after the discovery that they could have contributed to hundreds of deaths.
The creams, commonly used to treat eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions, are safe when applied to the skin but can become flammable after soaking into fabric.
A 2017 BBC investigation uncovered 37 deaths linked to paraffin-based creams since 2010, but the fire service is now saying the number could be far higher.
"Hundreds of thousands of people use them," Chris Bell, watch commander of the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, told the BBC. "We're not sure how many fire deaths might have occurred but it could be into the hundreds."
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) tells patients to avoid smoking or approaching naked flames while the creams are in contact with dressings or clothing.
It advises: "Patients' clothing and bedding should be changed regularly - preferably daily - because emollients soak into fabric and can become a fire hazard."
An investigation by the BBC discovered that of 38 products containing paraffin currently available for sale in the UK, only seven carried a warning about the fire risk.
The MHRA is now conducting a review around the safety information on the products to reduce the risk to consumers.