The CPAP machine is widely utilized by patients who experience sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia, tiredness, and sleepiness and is usually recommended by a sleep specialist after you complete a sleep test. For most people, getting used to CPAP therapy takes time and comes with trial and error while learning how to use it properly and comfortably.

CPAP therapy is highly beneficial. However, there can also be some side effects that will make you consider taking a night off or even stopping therapy, which can be hazardous to your health. It’s essential not to give up and find solutions to the issues that you may be having, including skin irritation.

We want to ensure that your CPAP therapy is effective and that you have the best possible experience. This article will cover many options to help prevent CPAP skin irritation, which is a common complaint, and to help you get a great night’s sleep.

Common Causes of CPAP Mask Skin Irritation

Everyone has different skin types, sensitivity levels, and facial sizes. Even though manufacturers do their best to make a comfortable CPAP mask, you may still experience some skin irritation.

There are various types of CPAP masks, and depending on your facial structure, skin sensitivity, and mask style, you may need to try a couple of different styles before you find the best-fitting one.

Causes of Skin Irritation from Full-Face CPAP Masks

For the full-face CPAP mask, some of the most common causes of skin irritation include the following:

  • Your CPAP mask could be dirty as it collects bacteria, oil, dead skin cells, dust, and other particles over time and needs to be cleaned regularly.
  • Due to daily use and time, CPAP cushions wear out and degrade, becoming uncomfortable and abrasive against your skin.
  • Tightening your CPAP mask too much can increase pressure on your cheeks, nose, and chin, causing it to rub unnecessarily.
  • You may be better off with a different type of CPAP mask or need a different size to better fit your facial structure and features.
  • Oily skin can cause your CPAP mask to slip and slide while you’re sleeping.
  • If you run a humidifier at night, moisture can collect in the tube and moisten your skin.

Causes of Skin Irritation from Nasal Pillows

For CPAP nasal pillow irritation, the most common causes of skin irritation include the following:

  • You are wearing the wrong size nasal pillow and need a different size
  • Your nasal pillow is placed improperly in your nose and may be in too far
  • The oxygen passing through your CPAP tubing could be too dry

Treating Sores and Protecting Your Skin From Developing Skin Irritations From Your CPAP Mask

Treating any sores you develop from your CPAP mask is essential to avoid further infection. Here are some ways you can treat and help prevent further irritation.

  • For slight irritation, you can treat spots with an ointment and ensure that you clean your CPAP mask daily. Making a habit of washing your mask and cushions every day will help prevent bacteria, oil, and dirt from building up and minimize your risk of skin irritation.
  • You can purchase cushion liners to help alleviate any further irritation. Suppliers generally have two kinds of mask liners: full-face or nasal liners. The selection available to you will depend on the type of mask you wear. The mask liner will help create a barrier between your skin and the mask and also ensure that the mask fits better and is properly sealed.
  • If the irritation on your skin is on the bridge of your nose, you can use a nasal gel pad on your nose bridge before you place the mask on to avoid direct contact with your skin.
  • If your mask does not fit properly, you can purchase a different style with fewer touch points on your skin and a more minimal profile. If it is too tight, the wrong size, or improperly positioned, you must get a new one or adjust the placement.
  • Ensuring that your face is clean before placing on your mask will ensure that you are leaving minimal residue, dirt, and oil on your skin.

When Is It Time to Replace Your CPAP Mask?

Even higher-quality CPAP masks from top-of-the-line brands will eventually wear out due to natural wear and tear. If you notice that your mask has any of the following issues, it is recommended that you replace it right away.

  • Dryness — If you notice in the morning that your mouth, nose, or throat feel dry, you should purchase a new mask.
  • Cracking When examining your mask, if you notice any minor cracks in the cushion, you need to immediately replace it because a defective cushion can reduce the effectiveness of overall CPAP therapy.
  • Stiffness Mask stiffness can cause discomfort and rub your skin while you are sleeping. If your mask feels stiff, try using a new cushion to ensure you are more comfortable and don’t develop skin irritation.
  • Leaking Leaking masks need to be replaced immediately so you can get the most out of your sleep apnea treatments.
  • Discoloration Oils, soaps, and lotions from your skin can cause discoloration on your mask and irritation on your skin. When you notice discoloration on your mask, it is time to replace it.

To troubleshoot CPAP machine issues like whistling noises, ensure the mask fits properly—not too loose to cause air leaks and not too tight to hinder the self-inflating seal—while also considering mask size and consulting your sleep medicine doctor for the correct fit.

Begin Your Sleep Apnea Treatment Today With The Experts At DreamZz Sleep Center

Whether you are just beginning to explore treatment for sleep apnea or are struggling with skin irritation or other issues with your CPAP treatment, the sleep specialist at DreamZz Sleep Center will ensure you get the best CPAP mask for your needs. A restful night’s sleep will improve your quality of life, health, and cognitive function. 

DreamZz Sleep Center is here to help you with any sleep-related issues you may be experiencing. Whether you need an in-home sleep test, CPAP or BiPAP therapy, lifestyle modifications, oral appliance therapy, or a combination of approaches, our team of sleep specialists will assist you in creating a personalized treatment plan to get you the sleep you dream of and the therapy you need.

Contact us to book a consultation today!