CPAP Mask Overview Video
Common CPAP Mask Questions
A CPAP mask is the main point of contact that delivers pressurized air from a CPAP machine to your airways via your nose, mouth, or both. A mask is easily the most important part of your CPAP therapy. Masks come in 3 different main styles: full face, nasal, and nasal pillow. Let's go over these in greater detail:
Full Face Mask
A full face mask is a mask that covers the mouth AND the nostrils. Full face masks are intended mostly for people that breathe through their mouth and are preferred over Oral masks because they allow for breathing through the nose too.
A nasal mask is a mask that covers the nostrils and is gently strapped in place with a set of headgear straps. As you breathe through the nose, the air is delivered to the nasal mask and enters the airway by breathing normally. Nasal masks are some of the most popular mask styles on the market today.
Nasal Pillow Mask
A nasal pillow mask is like a nasal mask in that it delivers pressurized air to the nose by sealing around each nostril with comfortable pillows. This adds comfort for some users, and many people swear by their pillow mask.
There are four other types of CPAP masks that are less commonly used. These are hybrid masks, oral masks, nasal prong masks, and total face masks.
Hybrid masks are a combination full face and pillow mask. Hybrid masks use nasal pillows to seal around the base of each nostril, and an oral mask to seal around the mouth. Because of this, hybrid masks have an open field of view, and allow for reading or watching TV. Some full face users find it difficult to switch to this type of mask though, finding that the nasal pillows cause nasal irritation.
Oral masks cover the mouth only and do not cover the nose at all. Oral masks seal around the mouth and deliver air through two inlets. Oral masks are not as popular as full face masks because of the fact that you actually have to bite down on the mask while you sleep. Some users have also found that the air intake can get blown out the nose, with some people finding that uncomfortable.
Nasal Prong masks are similar to nasal pillows except nasal prong masks actually come with 2 prongs that are inserted deeper into the nose. You would need a nasal prong mask if you couldn't get a good seal from the nasal pillows and a nasal mask was unsuitable for you. The nasal prong mask can sometimes cause irritation to users inside the nose, and it's not widely used for that reason.
If all else fails, and no other mask will work, the total face mask is the last option. It's called a total face mask because it covers the entire face, including the eyes. A total face mask may be needed if air is leaking out the side of the eyes. Because this mask is almost a last resort and highly uncomfortable, it's not very popular.
CPAP.com offers free return insurance so if you buy a mask and don't like it for any reason, you can return it for a refund or exchange within 30 days.
You may not realize it, but in some ways, masks choose you, not the other way around! You'll get the most out of CPAP therapy if you get a mask that accurately reflects how you actually sleep, not how you'd like to sleep. Start by asking anyone who's been around you when you sleep. Do you sleep mouth open or closed? Depending on how you answer, this is going to be your first major step in choosing a new mask. If you sleep with your mouth open, you'll need a full face mask, or you could use a chinstrap (to keep your mouth closed) and try a nasal mask. If you sleep with your mouth closed, you have a few more options. You can go with a nasal pillow mask or a nasal mask.
All of our masks now have free return insurance, which means you can return any masks you don't want to keep (within 30 days) for a full refund!
Many of our masks have a mask sizing guide available that's published by the manufacturer, and when we can we'll include it on our website. Many customers find that using sizing guides are very beneficial when picking a mask.
You need a prescription to buy a CPAP mask. Masks (along with CPAP machines) are considered Class II Medical Devices, and per federal and state regulations, a prescription must be on file before you can purchase a mask. There is one exception to this rule. With some mask manufacturers, you can purchase a Mask Assembly Kit (basically a collection of parts that you would need to assemble on your own) and the Mask Assembly Kit would not require a prescription. Some users are able to use this as a way to get around the prescription requirement. CPAP.com sells both CPAP Masks and Mask Assembly Kits on our website.
Your CPAP Mask cushion should be replaced once every 3 months, and your complete mask should be replaced once every 6 months.
Skin irritation can be a common problem with masks, as are red marks on the face. Red marks can appear from over-tightening, and skin irritation can come from the silicone used with some mask brands. You can purchase a mask liner that can wrap around the silicone portion of the mask, making it much easier to wear. Many people find that mask liners make wearing their mask much more comfortable and bearable.