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CPAP Mask Frequently Asked Questions |

    CPAP Mask

    CPAP Mask Overview

    A CPAP mask is the delivery system used to receive the air stream generated by the CPAP or BiPAP machine. The mask should be comfortable and seal completely without leaving red marks on the face. There are a wide variety of CPAP masks available in several different styles offering CPAP users many options from which to choose. Mask type categories are shown above.

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    CPAP Masks FAQs

      What is a CPAP Mask?

    A CPAP mask creates an airtight seal around the mouth, nose, nostrils, or both the mouth and nose; allowing the pressurized air to travel from the CPAP machine to the airway. A CPAP mask isn't just important, it's essential. It's crucial to the long term success of CPAP therapy, so making sure someone has the correct mask is a very important part of CPAP treatment.

    CPAP masks come in three popular styles:

    • Nasal: This type of mask covers the nostrils completely and is designed for people who breathe through the nose.
    • Nasal Pillow: This type of mask seals at the base of each nostril, and is intended for people who breathe through the nose. Nasal pillow masks do not cover the bridge of the nose, and are typically more minimal and lightweight in design.
    • Full Face: Full face masks cover the mouth and nostrils, and are intended for individuals who breathe through the mouth during sleep. Some modern full face masks are designed to avoid covering the bridge of the nose, and instead seal under the nostrils.

    There are other, less common, types of CPAP masks:

    • Nasal Prong: Penetrates the nostrils with prongs, and is designed for individuals that prefer the nasal pillow concept but can't get effective treatment with just nasal pillows.
    • Oral: Seals inside the mouth, and does not cover the nose. This type of mask is rarely used.
    • Hybrid: Covers the mouth, and uses a full set of nasal pillows. Designed as an alternative to a full face mask and is the most popular of the lesser-purchased mask types.
    • Total Face: Covers the entire face, and is only used when no other mask will work, or air is leaking out of the eyes.
      How do I choose the mask that is right for me?
    We provide our customers with many tools to make informed decisions about their mask purchases. Options include:
    • Calling a CPAP Expert Toll Free. 800.356.5221.

    • Comparison Charts. These charts compare available masks, feature by feature. If you're unsure of the meaning of a feature, click on or hover over the question mark for a pop out definition. Click on the image or name of the product for more detailed product information, pictures and resources.

      Compare Most Popular Masks

      Compare All Masks

    • Browse Our Mask Product Categories. These categories show each mask our company offers, ranked by popularity. Popularity is determined by a mix of sales data and our in-house opinion of the quality of the mask based on our experience and customer feedback. The best products float to the top of our categories.

      Nasal Mask Category

      Full Face Mask Category

      Nasal Pillow Mask Category

      Nasal Prong Mask Category

      Hybrid Mask Category

      Oral Mask Category

      Total Face Mask Category

    • Sizing Guides. Many Nasal and Full Face masks have sizing guides available to help determine the size needed. Simply print the sizing guide, cut out if needed, and use a mirror or helper to look at the guide to see if it is a proper fit on the face. Please note, to ensure the guide is the proper size, it should be printed in PDF format at 100% scale, meaning "Fit to Page" may have to be disabled.

    • Return Insurance. With every mask we sell, you have the option of purchasing return insurance. Masks are FDA approved medical devices. Once a mask is used, it cannot be resold to another customer. was the first in the industry to offer return insurance to our customers. Return insurance provides 30 days for you to try a mask and return it for any reason for a refund of the price of the mask. If you are trying a mask for the first time, return insurance might be right for you.

      We also offer Free Return Insurance on some masks.
      How can I compare different masks?
    Like our machine comparison chart, we have created a CPAP Mask Comparison Guide to help you compare different masks. This guide stacks up every mask we sell, feature by feature. If you don't know the meaning of a feature, click the question mark for a definition. The links below will take you to the most popular masks, or to the different types of masks we sell.

    Compare Most Popular Masks

    Compare All Nasal Masks

    Compare All Full Face Masks

    Compare All Nasal Pillow Masks

    Compare All Nasal Prong Masks

    Compare All Hybrid Masks

    Compare All Oral Masks

    Compare All Total Face CPAP Masks
      How often should I replace my mask?
    Medicare allows for mask cushion replacement every three (3) months, and a complete mask system replacement every six (6) months. CPAP manufacturers and vendors suggest these replacement schedules as well.

    In our experience, most mask cushions begin to deteriorate after about six months of use. The cushion eventually becomes too soft to hold a seal. The headgear straps lose elasticity and must be tightened more and more to get the same quality seal.

    We strongly suggest replacing cushions and pillows as soon as they start to soften. Air leaks may reduce the effectiveness of CPAP therapy and headgear that is too tight may cause facial sores at pressure points. In most cases, replacement headgear is available if it is stretched out or the Velcro worn out.

    To see what parts of your mask are replaceable refer to our Replacement Part Finder. Just search for your mask to see all of the replaceable parts.
      How do I care for my mask?

    Masks should be washed daily with warm water and gentle soap or baby shampoo. Let the mask air dry. Never use antibacterial soap as it will break down the silicone of the mask cushion. Avoid soaps that include lotion which can coat the mask and cause it to lose its seal. A safe cleaner is the Control III Disinfectant CPAP Cleaning Solution. Remember, going to bed with a clean face will improve your seal and protect the lifespan of your mask. Citrus Mask Wipes

    The best time to clean your mask is in the morning after use. This removes the oils left behind from your skin which can reduce the lifespan of your mask. We recommend using Mask Wipes to make daily morning cleaning easy. The mask wipes are made from materials that will not break down your mask.

    Citrus Mask Wipes

    For customers who want to completely disinfect their mask and accessories, there's an even better option than wipes. The Lumin Mask and Accessories Cleaner uses powerful UV light to disinfect, killing almost all bacteria almost instantly. It's not a cleaner and doesn't scrub or wash anything, but for simple disinfecting the Lumin works great!

    Here are some other cleaning products to help with keeping your mask fresh:

    Citrus II CPAP Mask Spray Cleaner

    Control III Disinfectant CPAP Cleaning Solution - Home Care Kit

    Hurricane CPAP Equipment Dryer

    Unscented CPAP Mask Wipes

    Lumin CPAP Mask and Accessories Cleaner

      Are mask cushions interchangeable with other mask frames or can I use a different size cushion on the same frame?
    The answer to this question depends on the mask. In most cases, the mask frame will only accept cushions or pillows made for that specific mask. However, there are a few variations to this rule: ResMed's Mirage SoftGel Nasal CPAP Mask and Mirage Activa LT Nasal CPAP Mask are examples of the exception. In this case, both masks use the same mask frame; therefore, the cushions for the two masks are interchangeable. The EasyFit Masks by DeVilbiss offer different cushion types such as gel or silicone, which are interchangeable between the mask frames.

    As to whether or not you can use different size cushions for a specific mask on the same mask frame, this also depends on the mask. Some mask frames are compatible with multiple cushion or pillow sizes, while other mask frames only fit cushions of the same size. This information is provided on the product pages. Please review the page of the specific product you are interested in to learn if you will need a different size mask frame for each size of cushion or pillow. For assistance, contact us at 800.356.5221.
      How do I stop mask leaks?
    Air leaks can be caused by masks that are too big, too old, or simply the wrong style.

    Air leaking into the eyes is usually an indication that the mask is too big (long or wide) as are leaks at the base of the nose. Leaks may also occur under the nose due to facial hair.

    As the silicone in the mask cushion ages, it deteriorates and becomes too soft to hold a seal. For many masks, the cushion may be removed and replaced to extend the life of the mask. View our Replacement Part Finder to see if a replacement cushion is available for your mask.

    When a cushion has softened to the point where it will no longer hold a seal, you may be able to tighten it enough to stop the leaking when you go to sleep, but during the night the seal will loosen and leak.

    Mask leaks may also be caused by the pillow pushing against the mask and changing the position and seal of the mask. There are special CPAP Pillows which are are designed to minimize the contact of the CPAP mask with the pillow, even when you are sleeping on your side.

    Here are some suggested items that may help reduce mask leaks:

    Silent Night Full Face Mask Liners
    LiquiCell Nasal CPAP Cushions
    RemZzzs Nasal CPAP Mask Liners
    + See More

    Multi-Mask CPAP Pillow
      What Might be Wrong When the Mask Will Not Connect to the Hose?

    If a new mask will not connect to the hose, it could be a sign that the swivel or elbow from an old mask may be stuck inside the tube. Often, the swivel or elbow which extends from the mask can become lodged in the hose after use.

    There are two ways to determine if the swivel or elbow is inhibiting a new mask from connecting with the hose:

    To Determine By Reviewing the Hose:

    1. Collect the hose to compare against the product page details on
    2. Open the product page to review images that correspond directly with the hose.
    3. The end of the hose should not have an additional piece protruding from the connecting attachment.
    4. If there is a clear piece that seems to be integrated into the hose, pull to remove the segment.

    To Determine By Reviewing the Previous Mask:

    1. Collect the mask to compare against the product page details on
    2. Open the product page to review the replacement parts that correspond directly with the mask.
    3. Locate the swivel piece as a replacement part to compare.
    4. If the elbow is not attached to the mask as demonstrated on the site, the swivel or elbow may have become lodged in the tube.

    Here is a video highlighting a few reasons a CPAP hose might not properly connect to a CPAP mask:

      What is the Most Comfortable Mask?

    The most comfortable CPAP mask is going to depend on a lot of factors based on personal preferences. Which style works best for each person will depend on how he or she sleeps. Mouth breathing? A full face mask may be best. Breathe through the nose? A nasal mask or nasal pillow mask may work the best. Want a wide-open field of vision? A mask without a forehead support may work the best. Keep in mind, it's not unusual for someone to try a few different masks before finding one that's the most comfortable.

    Many different manufacturers have developed masks that are designed to address common customer complaints with CPAP therapy. There are masks designed to minimize the feelings of claustrophobia. There are also masks designed for active sleepers, and even masks that make it easy to read or watch TV. Before purchasing a mask, it's important to know what features matter the most and go from there.

      Why Does My CPAP Mask Whistle?

    A CPAP mask can sometimes whistle for a few possible reasons:

    1. Air is leaking out the sides of the mask because the mask isn't sealing properly.
    2. Vented air from the top of the exhalation port is causing the noise. Perhaps the diffuser isn't working properly.

    The most common reasons for whistling sounds are often the presence of leaks. When a leak happens, the pressurize air escapes, and in the process it can cause vibrations in the silicone or gel which can cause whistling. Mask leaks are common, and they're easy to fix. Simply adjusting the mask can often reduce or eliminate the whistling sounds. If that doesn't work, it may be advisable to use a CPAP Mask Liner to help create a better seal and make the cushion more comfortable.

    The exhalation port is usually found on top or sides of the mask, and it's how the mask vents carbon dioxide. If the mask seal is fine, and no air is escaping from the mask around the edges, then it could be the case that the exhalation ports aren't working properly and need to be replaced.

      Are CPAP Masks Universal?

    CPAP masks are mostly universal, meaning they will work with almost every brand of machine with one notable exception. The AirMini AutoSet Travel CPAP Machine is designed to work with a small handful of ResMed CPAP masks. Otherwise, CPAP masks are universal, meaning they will work well with every machine. This is possible because most hoses use standardized connectors at the point the hose connects with the mask, and masks are designed to fit within these connectors.

      How Long do CPAP Masks Last?

    CPAP masks are not intended to last for years, and are designed to be replaced on a fairly regular schedule. CPAP masks should be completely replaced once every 6 to 12 months. CPAP masks are worn every night, and take a lot of abuse during wear. The goal is to create an airtight seal, while at the same time keeping a person healthy. Over time, human oils can begin to break down a mask cushion; the headgear gets stretched out; the frame can crack, and the experience gets less and less comfortable. This is why regular replacement of a CPAP mask is an important part of CPAP therapy.

      How Do I Stop My CPAP Mask from Leaking?

    Stopping a CPAP mask from leaking can be frustrating, especially if the leak happens repeatedly during the night. Mask leaks can be caused by a number of things including:

    • Headgear Not Being Tight Enough or Too Tight
    • Body Position Changes Increasing Pressure from Bed Pillow
    • CPAP Pressure Increases During the Night
    • Human Oils Causing Seal to Slip
    • Beard or Mustache Preventing a Good Seal

    Sometimes leaks can happen as the result of changes in body position or pressure setting (as sometimes happens with an APAP machine). A person could shift in position, and the mask can press on the bed pillow with enough force to cause the seal to break, creating the leak. With APAP machines, the pressure output is variable and the machine can select any setting from 4 - 20. If the headgear isn't tight enough, and the machine selects a much higher pressure than what it was when the night began; it can cause the seal to break in the middle of the night.

    Most of the time, simply adjusting the mask headgear straps will be good enough to stop a leak, and in the case of a leak from APAP pressure increases, it will most likely fix the issue.

    For leaks that happen because of a bed pillow, it may be time for a specially designed CPAP bed pillow. These pillows are built with cutouts designed to accommodate a CPAP mask, so shifts in position don't impact the seal of the mask. CPAP bed pillows help prevent recurring mask leaks, and are intended to help keep the user asleep longer.

    Human oils like sweat can sometimes create a small space between the mask and the skin. Over time, human oils can also break down the silicone, making it more difficult to get a seal. If you notice the CPAP mask slipping, it may be time to replace the cushion of your mask, and that may go a long way to helping fix the seal long term. Another possible solution would be to invest in a mask liner, which is designed to absorb most of the oils and make the mask seal better and less likely to slip.

    For men with beards, the hair creates a space where air can possibly escape, so it can take some extra planning when purchasing a mask. Try to get something that doesn't cover the upper lip if possible. This would preclude nasal masks and some types of nasal pillow masks. Full face masks, if you can tolerate them, are going to be the best option. It can also be helpful to wear a mask liner, as this can help create a better seal.

    Mask leaks can be annoying, but the good news is they're mostly easy to fix! Following a few simple steps can go a long way to improving the fit.

      How do I Clean My CPAP Mask?

    A CPAP mask cushion should be cleaned daily. It should be cleaned with mild soapy water or Mask Wipes. Make sure to gently scrub the inside of the cushion, and remove any dirt or debris. After cleaning, dry the inside of the cushion with a cloth. The frame can be cleaned in a similar way. The CPAP mask headgear should be washed weekly with warm water and mild soap, and allowed to air dry completely before being used again.

    A CPAP cleaning machine like the Lumin CPAP Sanitizer can also be used to sanitize the mask. The Lumin uses sanitizing UV light to kill 99.9% of all germs. Some additional scrubbing may need to take place after sanitization to remove any deposits, as the cleaning machine can't do this.

      Can You Recycle a CPAP Mask?

    CPAP masks are often made up of hard to recycle materials (like silicone), and even though some parts of the mask are made of plastic, it's not the same kind of plastic commonly found in water bottles. This means it's not a good idea to put a used CPAP mask in a recycling bin, as most of the parts are not easily recyclable. While there are organizations (such as the Reggie White Foundation and the American Sleep Apnea Association) that will accept used CPAP machines, neither organization will accept a used mask. This is largely done for health reasons. Used CPAP masks are a breeding ground for germs, and could easily make a new user sick. Sometimes recycling centers will accept masks on special days where they collect hard to recycle items, so it's important to call ahead to see if they accept these items.

    Did You Know?, CPAP Masks

    • If you are worried about sizing, select a mask with a fit pack so you know your size is in the bag!
    • Every mask is compatible with every machine.
    • offers over 70 different masks!
    • If you experience nasal irritation, consider alternating between your nasal pillow system and your nasal mask.

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