Doncaster widow's warning over skin creams that leave users at risk of setting themselves on fire

A Doncaster woman whose husband died when sparks from a cigarette set skin cream on his body ablaze has spoken of the dangers users face.

Tuesday, 21st March 2017, 9:18 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:38 am
Burns victim Philip Hoe.

Philip Hoe, who was being treated for psoriasis, died in 2006 when he sneaked out for a cigarette at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and suffered massive fatal burns when sparks ignited the emollient cream on his body being used to treat the condition.

At least 37 deaths since 2010 have been linked for creams used to treat skin conditions like eczema and Mr Hoe's widow Carol has hit out at the number of people dying as a result.

Doncaster Royal Infirmary where the incident happened.

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She 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.

"When we got there the staff came to me and told us he was covered with 90% burns. There was nothing they could do.

'To be quiet honest I'm really angry because at the inquest, the coroner said that further steps should be taken to give people warning about this and for nearly 40 more deaths to happen after Philip I just can't understand it."

Doncaster Royal Infirmary where the incident happened.

Mr Hoe, 60, of Bircotes was taken to Sheffield's Northern General Hospital following the incident at DRI but died shortly afterwards.

Paraffin, which is found in skin creams, can soak into fabric and make it flammable and coroners and regulatory agencies have repeatedly warned of the dangers of skin creams like E45 - but deaths continue to occur.

An investigation, carried out by BBC Radio 5 live, asked the 53 British fire brigades how many deaths had been linked to paraffin-based skin creams since 2010.

Only six responded but revealed 37 fatal incidents - which suggests that the true scale of the problem is still underreported.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is urging manufacturers to add a warning to the packaging of any skin cream that contains paraffin.

They have also added they will explore whether paraffin-based creams should carry a warning as standard.

A spokeswoman for the Proprietary Association of Great Britain said normal use of emollients within the home was safe as long as people observed the on-pack instructions.

She added: 'Manufacturers of emollients are not at present required by regulation or statue to include fire safety warnings on packaging. Safety is nonetheless of paramount importance to the OTC medicines industry.

'In light of this investigation PAGB is looking to explore this issue further with the member companies and relevant bodies to see if in future, safety warnings should be added to on-pack labeling for all paraffin based emollients as standard practice.'