Categories: Sleep Apnea

How to prevent CPAP mask rash

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Skin irritation and rash from wearing a CPAP mask is preventable. Waking up with a pressure sore on the bridge of your nose can be painful. Even worse is are the unsightly marks made from your CPAP mask that are difficult to disguise. The primary reasons to skin irritation or pressure sores are due to fit and cleanliness. There are a variety of reasons why you may get face irritation at the bridge of the nose or other locations where the mask touches the face. Outlined below are the reasons for skin irritation and treatments to reduce or remove any rash from wearing a CPAP mask while sleeping.

Reasons for a mask rash

  • Over-tightened mask. A tight mask can cause the skin to irritate, cause a rash and develop into pressure wounds.  If your face still has marks after an hour of removing your mask then it is probably too tight.
  • Improperly positioned mask. Make sure that the mask fits correctly and the straps are adjusted to provide a firm but not over-tightened.
  • Incorrect sizing. The mask may be too big or too small which can cause you to tighten it too much. Some masks, no matter how much you try and make it fit your face just won’t work correctly. Everyone has different face types and not all masks work with your face type.
  • Mask cushions need replacement. The plastic/rubber material can wear down and make the mask site too close to the face. 
  • Oils and dirt from face cause mask to slide. Having an oily face can result in a sliding mask during the tight. The oils also build up on your mask and they should be cleaned daily to remove the oils.

CPAP Skin irritation treatment

  • Use a nasal gel pad. Nasal gel pads fit on the bridge of the nose before putting on the mask and greatly reduce any irritation at the bridge. The nasal gel pads should be replaced monthly. After a month they tend to get thinner and stretch out significantly.
  • Use a cotton mask liner. RemZzzs Mask Liners absorb facial oils, reduce air leaks, prevent skin irritations and pressure marks on your face. They are made from 100% breathable cotton fabric and are disposable.
  • Consider switching masks. CPAP providers frequently provide mask fitting services to make sure that you have the correct sized mask and help make the adjustments to ensure the appropriate fit. Over-tighting is not the best method of reducing leaks in your CPAP mask.
  • Clean your face before using your mask. Makeup, lotions, or creams can buildup on your face and cause mask slippage.
  • Clean your mask daily. Oils build up on the mask. Consider washing your mask and hose daily with warm soap and water, using unscented mask wipes or getting a CPAP cleaner.
  • Replace the mask cushions. Mask cushions should be replaced every six months as the material deteriorates over time.

If the mask continue to cause a rash or discomfort speak to your doctor or CPAP equipment supplier. Got any tips on how to reduce skin irritation when using a CPAP mask? Let us know as a comment below.


I'm always open to finding new products and methods for improving my sleep. Sometimes I get to sleep on the job :)

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