Self-made sheep costumes, often involving cotton wool, are a popular choice for fancy dress parties.
But irresponsible pranksters have set at least eight people in sheep costumes on fire in the past five years in the NHS Lothian area alone.
Dr Stephen Goldie, plastic surgeon at the burns unit at St. Johns Hospital, Livingston, says the “jokes” could prove fatal and advised party goers to ditch the combustible sheep costumes.
He said: “The victims don’t realise the danger they’re putting themselves in by essentially wrapping themselves in a very flammable material, mostly cotton wool glued to their body or other material.”
He said a recent case of a victim arriving at hospital dressed as a sheep was not an isolated incident.
He added: “There’s more than just one or two – it’s definitely a recurring theme.
“I want to draw people’s attention to it so that they think about what they wear on a night out for a fancy dress party.
“I think potentially these incidents have come about from thinking it would be a practical joke to set fire to a sheep costume and they perhaps don’t realise the consequences can be really quite significant for the victim.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue service said: “If there is evidence from health professionals that people might actually be setting fire to fancy dress outfits being worn by people that’s very concerning.
“Although it may seem like a prank the risk of inflicting burns on a person or causing a fire to spread are very serious.
“Hopefully most people would realise the dangers and use their common sense, playing with fire is never worth the risk of injury or damage.”
In 2010, a football fan was fined £25,000 after setting a rival supporter in home-made sheep costume on fire.
Peter Wallace caused panic on a crowded train after setting his victim Arjuna Rabindranath alight.
Mr Rabindranath, 24, ran through the carriage, blazing and in agony.
But David Morrison, of the Scottish Libertarians, said fancy dress party goers should be free to choose whatever costume they wished when heading out.
He said: “While health and safety is undoubtedly important, individuals should be free to weigh it against other considerations if they so choose. While one person might consider safety to be of primary importance in clothing choice, others may place greater value in fashion, sense of humour, or one of any number of other factors.
“The NHS often fails to consider these other factors, and focuses only on the negatives of particular choices, even in a situation like this where the number of cases is tiny.”