CPAP Mask is Irritating my Skin!

I recently saw a young lady with red, irritated skin around the nose and mouth, where the CPAP (Continuous Pressure Airway Pressure) mask comes in contact with the face. Such irritation commonly occurs in patients with sensitive skin, environmental allergy, excessive sweating, and higher pressure requirement.

This can be frustrating, but there are things you can do to minimize and reverse this.

1. Do not put the mask too tight. CPAP machines can compensate for the small amount of air leak. When we review your CPAP compliance report, we can make sure this air leak is not causing apnea (cessation of respirations) or hypopnea (shallow respirations).

2. Apply talc powder before you put the mask on if you have oily skin. You may already have done this. Baby powder works the best in absorbing excess moisture and sweat.

3. Get tested for allergies especially the indoor allergies like dust, mold, and pets. Skin testing is safe, quick, and painless.

4. Switch to a different interface; try a nasal cannula shown below as it would minimize the contact with skin or a smaller mask from a different manufacturer.

My patients with sensitive skin love this Nuance interface.

5. Use a moisturizer cream if your skin is dry. We have also used Elocon, a non-steroidal skin ointment to reduce the inflammation.

Work with us through this irritation, but do not ever stop using the CPAP as untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, and drowsy driving death.

Sleep Well, Live Well.

God Bless You.