How to Avoid Marks on Your Face From Wearing a CPAP Mask

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man with cpap marks on face

5 Tips To Get Rid of Red Marks and Lines on Your Face From a CPAP Mask

Treating sleep apnea with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine can offer near-immediate benefits, including reduced daytime fatigue, renewed energy, and mood improvement. And while CPAP treatment helps minimize or eliminate severe health risks, like certain cardiovascular conditions, there are some minor downsides you may experience—mostly related to discomfort—like dry eyes, nasal congestion, and CPAP marks on face. CPAP marks on your face can be discouraging, which can lead to non-compliant sleep apnea therapy, but there are also ways to help prevent face marks.

At CPAP.com, we’ve researched how to help ward off CPAP strap marks and curated our online catalog accordingly to include the best products designed to get rid of CPAP marks on your face. Fortunately, there are solutions and supplies you can implement to avoid CPAP marks, like wearing the correct mask style and finding the right mask size while utilizing products and comfort accessories made to mitigate skin irritation.

Though it may be frustrating to wake up with red marks where your CPAP mask is worn, thankfully, the lines do fade soon after waking up—and they’re a small trade-off for improving your sleep apnea symptoms and getting the restorative sleep you need for optimal health. If you’re searching “How do I stop CPAP marks on my face?” and are eager for a remedy, you may benefit from trying the suggestions and top-rated products below.

1. Check the Fit of Your Mask and Headgear

If you wake up with red marks along your ears, nose, cheeks, or the sides of your face, you may need to make adjustments to your mask fit. Higher pressure settings usually require a tighter-fitting mask, and a tighter fit can create lines and creases along your face. 

Check the fit of your mask and the headgear tension first. Your mask should be secure but not uncomfortably tight. Once you’ve confirmed you have a comfortable mask fit, inspect the headgear straps; this is usually the area causing the issue of impressions on your face due to overtightened straps. It can take some time to adjust and re-adjust the headgear straps and some trial and error getting the right fit that minimizes both strap marks and overnight leaks.

Wearing a snug-fitting mask that won’t shift or create gaps can help your overall sleep apnea therapy experience since a better fit means less leaks. If you can’t get a proper seal even after making adjustments to the tension, you may need to replace your headgear, cushion, or nasal pillow since wear and tear over time can impact performance and cause persistent leaks.

2. Consider Which Mask Type Will Benefit You Best

Perhaps you’re newly diagnosed and overwhelmed with the three main mask choices: nasal, nasal pillow, and full face. You may be wondering which is best for you, and how each will perform night after night. Each mask type makes varying contact with your face; the smaller the surface area pressing against your skin, the less CPAP marks you will have on your face. 

If you are older, and therefore produce less collagen in your skin, you may want to opt for a smaller mask as it will reduce the amount and depth of creases along your face. However, your sleep care physician will be able to determine which mask type is best for you. 

People who breathe through their mouth during sleep will almost always benefit most from a full face mask (as a nasal pillow mask, for example, could reduce the effectiveness of your sleep apnea therapy), but there are still some steps you can take to reduce CPAP lines if you need to wear a full face mask.

3. Try Products Designed for Skin Irritation Relief

Having red marks and impressions on your face every morning may have you searching how to get CPAP lines off your face, and that’s understandable. Most masks have padding or strap covers to help prevent red marks, but if you need an additional buffer to pad the edges of your CPAP mask, our online catalog is stocked with several products that can help. 

CPAP skin protector options include:

Padded Full-Face Mask Liners

Made with natural cotton fibers, this product fits over your cheeks and forehead to create a barrier between your skin and the cool silicone of any full face mask. 

Padded Nasal Mask Liners 

Designed for nasal masks, this ultra-soft product prevents the cool silicone of your mask—which may be uncomfortable—from making contact with your skin.

Padded Nasal Pillow Mask Liner 

Created for use with nasal pillow masks, this product reduces skin irritation, noisy leaks, and helps wick away moisture, so your mask doesn’t slip around while you sleep.

Cheek Pads 

This product helps enhance CPAP compliance by reducing or eliminating skin irritation caused by masks. It’s designed for masks with a four-point connection and is made with soft polyester microfleece. 

Ear Loop Protectors

Primarily designed for use with oxygen cannulas, this product offers supportive cushioning along your ears with the goal to improve CPAP compliance.

Some padding accessories are disposable and designed for limited use while others can be washed and reused. Pick the accessories that are best for your mask setup and lifestyle.

If you experience skin sensitivity especially around your nose, you may benefit from gel pads for the nose like the Boomerang Gel Pad or the Gecko Nasal Pad.

4. Try Incorporating a CPAP Pillow

Still waking up with CPAP marks on face? It may help to sleep on your back or ask your doctor if a CPAP pillow is right for you. Designed with special cut-outs, a CPAP pillow can help reduce pressure on the mask while allowing you to comfortably stay in one sleeping position. 

Additionally, some CPAP wearers on our free sleep apnea forum mention using ice, cold water, or a hydrating cream to help quickly erase CPAP marks.

5. Add a New CPAP Mask to Your Set Up

If the issue persists and you develop bruising, sores or ulcers, discoloration at contact point, or scarring, talk with your sleep care provider about a different mask choice for your personal needs. The Bleep DreamPort CPAP Mask, which doesn’t use headgear, may be a solid choice, or you may benefit most from the DreamWear line that was designed with your comfort in mind. The AirFit F30i, AirFit N30i, and AirFit P30i can also help prevent red marks. Newer masks, like these options, offer minimal facial contact, soft and flexible headgear, and under-the-nose cushions.

Finally, you may find some helpful ideas in our article about getting comfortable CPAP sleep, which includes tips and tricks to make your sleep apnea therapy easier and boost your overall sleep apnea therapy compliance.

How Do I Solve Other CPAP Mask-Related Skin Irritation Issues?

Bumps, pimples, facial sores, and other types of skin breakouts can be the result of an allergic reaction, an overly tight mask, or a buildup of facial oils under the mask. Keeping your skin and your CPAP equipment clean on a daily basis helps to reduce the risk of skin problems from contact, as does loosening the straps, so you get a proper fit.

Keeping your mask clean can also help with allergies. Most people are not allergic to silicone in the mask, but rather to the chemicals used to help manufacture the silicone. Removing these chemicals with soap and warm water before you put your mask on can help, as can our other cleaning products like mask wipes and specially-formulated disinfectant.

Final Thoughts

Waking up each morning with lines and creases along your face can be embarrassing and uncomfortable and can be one of the biggest challenges of CPAP therapy, especially since it can take one to two hours for the CPAP marks to fade. Getting rid of CPAP lines can dramatically improve your overall sleep apnea therapy experience and help you stay compliant night after night.

We encourage you to implement the suggestions in this article—especially wearing a CPAP mask that fits and incorporating mask comfort accessories, since it can make all the difference. If you still have CPAP marks on face after implementing these solutions, make plans to talk with your doctor about other options. 

Do you deal with CPAP marks and skin irritation? Have you found a remedy that reduces or eliminates these fine lines and creases? Drop any helpful hints in the comments below so other readers can talk with their physicians about trying them out!

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