Prevent Problems With Meds That Can Catch Fire

You can help extinguish issues with flammable meds.

Serious burns or fires due to flammable meds are rare...but dangerous. And many patients don’t often realize a product they’re using can pose a significant fire hazard.

For example, insect repellents or spray sunscreens that contain alcohol can catch fire if used near open flames...such as a grill or cigarette.

Take steps to help keep patients safe.

Be familiar with meds that are flammable. Many are topicals, such as ciclopirox nail solution...testosterone gel (Testim, etc)...and minoxidil solution or foam (Rogaine, etc).

Other examples include clobetasol spray (Clobex)...nitroglycerin spray (Nitrolingual)...and OTCs such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Continue to update patient profiles with smoking status to catch any concerns with meds.

For example, smoking while applying testosterone gel could cause burns if this med catches fire.

Look for flammability warnings on product packaging...and avoid covering these details with Rx labels. Include a “flammable” auxiliary label if alert patients to take precautions.

For example, the propellants in budesonide foam (Uceris) are the med should be kept away from heat sources.

Point out warnings during Rx pickup. And encourage patients to keep flammable products away from fire or heat sources...such as curling irons, hair dryers, and space heaters.

Also remind patients to return meds to your pharmacy if you have a safe disposal program. Pressurized cans, such as inhalers and aerosols, can explode if thrown into an incinerator.

Review our resource, The Ins and Outs of Pharmacy Inventory, for tips on storing meds correctly in the pharmacy.

Key References

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Malathion Frequently Asked Questions. September 2020. (Accessed January 22, 2024).
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency. Using Insect Repellents Safely and Effectively. July 2023. (Accessed January 22, 2024).
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. October 2022. How to Safely Dispose of Your Asthma and Allergy Medicines. September 2022. (Accessed January 22, 2024).
Pharmacy Technician's Letter Canada. February 2024, No. 400211

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