The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has warned the public about using flammable skin creams after the products have lead to the deaths of 15 Londoners in just three years.

The LFB say that once these flammable moisturisers seep into cloth such as bedsheets and night clothes they can act like a wick allowing flames to quickly spread around the body.

They warn that washing sheets and clothes at a high temperature will not always remove the residue and are encouraging carers to stop using flammable paraffin and petroleum-based moisturisers on their elderly patients, especially those who smoke.

One woman who died after accidentally set herself on fire was multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferer Hilda Batten, from Earlsfield.

Batten, a smoker, lived alone and used a paraffin-based emollient cream. She was a wheelchair user for around 20 years and received daily visits from carers. In July 2016, Batten died after accidentally setting herself alight.

Hilda's niece, Val Hamilton, said: "My aunt smoked since she was 14 years old, it was her one pleasure in life – it was a part of the way she was.

"No one ever warned us before about emollient creams. She had a cream applied to her daily. Knowing about the risks now is too little too late," Hamilton continued. "They should put a warning on the packaging, people should be given guidelines about its usage."

The skin creams are often used by those suffering with skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, meaning they would be spread over large areas of their skin and increases their risk of harm.

Dan Daly, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: "It's a horrific reality but if you're wearing creams with flammable ingredients and you accidently drop a cigarette or a match, you are literally setting yourself on fire.

"Dropping cigarettes or matches onto clothing is dangerous but when flammable creams are involved, this really increases the chance of a fire starting and becoming much more intense," he added.

"Worse still, people using emollient creams tend to have beds with airflow mattresses. In effect, the bedding with the cream soaked in, acts as a wick," Daily said. "When the mattress comes into contact with a flame, the mattress essentially can act as a blow torch, intensifying the fire."

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates medicines and medical devices, says all creams containing paraffin should carry a flammability warning.

Dr Sarah Branch, Deputy Director of MHRA's Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines Division, said: "Emollients are important skin treatments used by many patients. We are working with companies to make sure that important safety messages are included in the product information.

"We urge people to let us know of any adverse events which might occur with these products via http://www.yellowcard.gov.uk."