Sleep Apnea Mask Problems and Solutions

Sleep Apnea Mask ProblemsSleep Apnea Mask Problems: #1 Dry Mouth

One of the first sleep apnea mask problems that I want to talk about is dry mouth.  If you wake with a dry mouth, chances are that you sleep with your mouth open – don’t worry, a lot of CPAP users do this. CPAP therapy can cause slight dry mouth on it’s own, but if you sleep with your mouth wide open, the problem can be seriously exacerbated.

There are only two primary solutions to dry mouth 1) use some method to keep your mouth closed at night and/or 2) use a full face mask with maximum humidity and other solutions to keep your mouth and tongue from drying out.

Keeping Your Mouth Closed During The Night

One solution that has worked for many CPAP users is to use surgical tape. Try 3″ 3M Micropore tape with one piece directly across your mouth and two more pieces from the jaw to the cheeks on either side of the mouth. The pieces on either side of your mouth help keep the tape over your mouth in place during the night.

You can also try using a chin strap – they work best with nasal masks, but can be made to work with full face masks as well, but if your mouth is not open at night, you do not need a mask that covers it.

We recommend the Philips Respironics Premium Universal Chin Strap

In some cases, dry mouth can be directly, or indirectly related to your pressure setting being too high, but hopefully your settings have already been optimized.

Humidification and Other Methods for Keeping Your Mouth and Tongue from Drying Out

Make sure you use as heated humidifier with your CPAP.  Most sleep doctors believe that everyone can benefit from heated humidification, especially those with mid to high range pressures, so hopefully you already have a heated humidifier.

You can also use Biotene products for dry mouth which include mouth sprays and gels, the gel seems to be most effective.   Some patients have reported success using Xylimelts tablets in their mouth prior to sleeping with their CPAP. Please check with your doctor first about using Xylimelts.


Sleep Apnea Mask Problems: #2 Mask Leak

Leaking or poor mask seal is the most common issue that CPAP users have to deal with.  Not only is mask leak annoying, but a heavy leak may exceed your CPAPs ability to maintain the prescribed pressure and have a negative impact on your therapy.

The silicone of a CPAP seal is very soft and it can crease if you over tighten it or when the mask moves around.  The first tendency for most people when presented with a leak is to tighten the straps more – this not only caused pain and discomfort, but also makes the problem worse. CPAP masks are designed to gently sit on your face without needing to be applied tightly.

Masks can be very durable, but they aren’t designed to last forever. Periodically check your cushions for tears, or changes in texture and flexibility which can cause increased leaking. Replace them when necessary.  Similarly, if your mask frame is worn or damaged, and/or your headgear is stretched out of shape, you will need to replace them.

maskmate for sleep apnea mask problemsMaskMate helps with a lot of sleep apnea mask problems.  You simply apply MaskMate to your mask to STOP air leaks, whether its facial hair, smile lines, skin wrinkles, or any other issue that is making your mask leak, this will stop the leaks.  It also helps to alleviate many of the other problems associated with your sleep apnea mask.

MaskMate Provides a Long List of Benefits:

  • Significantly Reduces Air Leaks
  • Stops Annoying CPAP Mask Noises
  • Improves Compliance and Increases CPAP Mask Comfort
  • Helps to Restore Smooth and Healthy Skin
  • Allows Users To Loosen Their Mask Headgear Without Compromising the Mask Seal
  • Comfortably Holds Mask in Place
  • Works Well With a Beard or Mustache
  • FDA Approved
  • Won’t Degrade Mask

Read More About MaskMate Here

Sleep Apnea Mask Problems: #3 Marks and Redness from the Mask

Getting a rash or redness from your mask? It could be you are wearing it too tight, not cleaning it well enough or it may be wearing out.

Even the very best mask out there may cause skin irritation when it’s getting close to the end of its life span. When you are wearing your mask every night, it will eventually wear out. Plus, when the cushion part of the mask degrades, its flexibility decreases, which increases the risk of leaks.

It’s a good idea to replace your mask every six months. You also need to replace the headgear, tubing and humidifier chamber, as well as the air intake filter, which is the small sponge in the back of your CPAP machine. When this sponge becomes clogged with dust, it reduces the uptake of air into the CPAP machine, which in turn can cause you to feel a reduced airflow and may cause the unit to overheat.

This, of course, will also negatively impact the benefits of your CPAP therapy.  Most health insurances will allow for CPAP equipment to be replaced every six months, so do it. Be sure to ask your therapy provider if you are unsure.

MaskMate is also a great way to ease that irritation and help to seal the leaks.

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CPAP mask problems

5 Common CPAP Mask Problems and How to Solve them

CPAP mask problems are not only frustrating, but they can also make it difficult or impossible for some CPAP users to stay on therapy.

Don’t use the discomfort as an excuse to quit CPAP therapy. Patients everywhere are experiencing the same CPAP mask problems you are. There are solutions and strategies to learn how to fall asleep with your mask on. You can do it, you just need the right tools and strategies.

Here are five common CPAP mask problems and how to solve them.

CPAP mask problems


Skin irritation, Sores and Bruises from Mask

No mask should cause pain nor discomfort if sized correctly and fitted properly. One of the most common mistakes CPAP users mask, is over tightening their CPAP mask, which leads to marks. Try loosening the straps and bit and let the mask form a seal when the air starts to flow. If you have to over tighten your mask to get a good seal, your mask cushion may be worn out and need replacing. Mask liners called MaskMate will also resolve skin irritation and other CPAP mask problems.


When the seal between your face and mask leaks, there can be a variety of causes.  If your mask has always leaked, the place to start may be selecting a different mask. There are several different types (nasal mask, nasal pillows, full-face mask, etc.) and lots of different brands.  It is important to make sure your mask is properly fitted and the straps are adjusted right. Experiment with adjusting your straps. Keep in mind that adjusting the headgear and mask too tight will often make leaks worse. Excess leak might also indicate a worn mask cushion that needs replacing. Masks are not designed to last forever. Periodically check your cushions for tears, or changes in texture and flexibility which can cause increased leaking. Replace them when necessary.  One of the fastest and most effective ways to stop leaks and other CPAP mask problems is to use MaskMate CPAP mask liners.


Patients who experience claustrophobia usually find that the small size and simplicity of nasal pillow masks more tolerable. It also often helps to try a mask that offers a clear field of vision. There is an adjustment period for most CPAP users as they get used to sleeping with any mask on the face. While your goal is to be able to sleep all night on CPAP, using it as long as you can tolerate it each night is better than nothing.

To reduce or eliminate feelings of claustrophobia, use your mask while you’re awake.  Practice by first just holding the mask up to your face without any of the other parts attached. Once you’re comfortable with that, try wearing the mask with the straps and without the hose connected.  Then attach the hose and turn your CPAP machine on at a low-pressure setting (with ramp feature turned on) and try holding the mask to your face and breathing without using the straps. And, finally, wear the mask with the straps and with the machine turned on.

By using your CPAP while you are awake, you send a message to the body that tells it that you’re choosing to use this therapy and that it’s okay and safe. Remind yourself that CPAP is keeping your airway open all night so that you can breathe and sleep normally.

Often a different mask that does not block your field of vision might help, try a different mask style.

Relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation, also may help reduce your anxiety.

Dry Mouth

If you wake with a dry mouth, chances are that you sleep with your mouth open – don’t worry, a lot of CPAP users do this. CPAP therapy can cause slight dry mouth on it’s own, but if you sleep with your mouth wide open, the problem can be seriously exacerbated. In this case, you might benefit from getting a chin strap if you use a nasal mask or nasal pillows mask. You can also use a full-face mask to accommodate mouth breathing.

If you have dry mouth and a stuffy nose, you may want to discuss your nasal obstructions with your sleep specialist. CPAP therapy can be difficult while having nasal problems along with CPAP mask problems.

Heated humidification is very important to prevent CPAP dry mouth. Sleep doctors believe that everyone should benefit from heated humidification, especially those with mid to high range pressures.

You can also use Biotene products for dry mouth which include mouth sprays and gels, the gel seems to be most effective.

Dry or Stuffy Nose

Having a dry or stuffy nose as a result of wearing a CPAP mask is never fun. Doctors recommend that you use the heated humidifier function on the CPAP machine to raise the humidity levels. If the humidity levels are too low, your mucous membranes react by becoming inflamed and swollen, which creates dryness and stuffiness. If using the heated humidifier doesn’t work, try using a saline spray right before you go to bed. If the dryness and stuffiness continues, you ask your doctor about using a steroid nasal spray.

5 Common CPAP Mask Problems and How to Solve them

More information about CPAP problems.

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Free 6 Day Supply of RemZzzs CPAP Mask Liners

Free 6 Night Sample of RemZzzs CPAP Mask Liners at no cost or obligation.

RemZzzs CPAP Mask Liners
RemZzzs CPAP Mask Liners

We are intensely focused on providing CPAP users with the tools, resources and support they need in order to get the best possible result from their experience with CPAP Therapy.

CPAP TotalCare has formed an alliance with Naturs Design, the makers of RemZzzs CPAP Mask Liners so we can bring more effective CPAP therapy and better sleep to CPAP users.  Through this alliance, RemZzzs has agreed to provide a free 6-night sample pack to all CPAP TotalCare users. The RemZzzs CPAP mask liner acts as a barrier between the skin and the silicone of the mask’s cushion, virtually eliminating all of the most common problems associated with wearing a CPAP mask.

Each free 6-Day Kit comes with 6 RemZzzs mask liners and 1 forehead liner. Use the forehead liner if you are experiencing red marks from you mask’s forehead support. RemZzzs has liners to fit the most popular CPAP masks. The RemZzzs CPAP mask liner comes in Small, Medium, or Large sizes for most of the top manufactured masks on the market. Each order comes with a 6-day supply of RemZzzs liners specific to your size mask.

All you need to do is create a CPAP TotalCare account, fill in your equipment profile (so we know which one to give you), and submit a help desk ticket from inside of your members area.  Be sure to have your shipping address filled out also, so we know where to send your free RemZzzs mask liners.

When you submit the help desk ticket to get your Free mask liners, just say – “Send me my free RemZzzs CPAP Mask liners” and we will send them right out!

Click here to signup and grab your Free Remzzzs CPAP Mask Liners!

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Personalized CPAP Mask Improvement Program

Having Issues or Problems With Your CPAP Mask?

Want to Explore Other Mask Options?

Welcome to The Personalized Mask Improvement Program

Mask problems such as leakage or discomfort are not only frustrating, but they can also have serious consequences. High leak can reduce the effectiveness of your therapy, and unresolved mask issues are the most frequent cause of discontinuing therapy. In other words, improving your CPAP mask experience is critical for your quality of life, but also the continuance of your therapy and your overall health.

(Update: We have found that MaskMate CPAP Mask Liners can solve many common mask problems.)

Fortunately, you do not have to resolve your mask issues alone, let us connect you with an experienced Clinical CPAP Therapist who will serve your personal mask consultant to help you find just the right mask for you. Mask problems are common, and our therapists have seen them all. Whether your mask is leaking, uncomfortable, bulky, broken, or loud, we can help you solve your mask problem through one-on-one interaction and support.

Our Personalized Mask Improvement Program is a concierge service that GUARANTEES that you will find the best possible long-term mask solution for your particular needs and preferences.  Through private one-on-one video consultations, your Clinical CPAP Therapist will work with you to diagnose your mask issues, understand your needs and preferences, and recommend solutions.  Your personal therapist will be available for a full six months for as many consultations as you need.

When it comes to solving mask problems, experience counts. All of our therapists have extensive experience with working with CPAP patients. They are dedicated professionals who are passionate about helping CPAP users get the most out of their therapy.

Step-by-Step Program

  • Create a CPAP TotalCare Account &  Complete Your Equipment & Therapy Profile

The CPAP TotalCare web based therapy management software makes it easy to create, store, and share a detailed equipment profile and also to store important information about the current status of your therapy.  After you register for the program below, you will be directed to a page where you can create your free CPAP TotalCare account.  After you create your account, you will create an equipment profile and your first ‘interactive therapy checkup. By answering a few questions in advance of your initial video consultation, you will be providing your therapist with critical information to help you get the results you want from the program.

  • telehealthguyInitial Video Consultation

Within 24 hours, we will contact you to schedule an appointment for an initial video consultation with your Clinical CPAP Therapist.  During your consultation, your therapist will give you a recap of the program and collect payment. Together, you will explore the issues you are having with your current mask and assist you in choosing a new mask.   Every mask in our catalog is available as an option and the program includes the cost of the mask.

  • Try-out Your New Mask

We want you to be happy with your new mask selection and the only way you will know if your new mask solves your mask problems is to use it.  Use your new mask for up to 30 days risk free. If at any time during the first 30 nights you decide you aren’t satisfied with your new mask, simply return it and your therapist will then assist you in picking a new one. No matter how many times you exchange your trial mask for a new one during the six-month program, you won’t pay any additional fees beyond shipping and handling charges for the replacement masks.

Any time you want help with fitting, adjustments, or anything else related to your mask, just schedule another video consultation with your therapist.

One-On-One Support From Your Personal Therapist Through Video Conferencing

The only thing better than having direct access to an expert who is passionate about what they do and committed to helping you get the most out of your therapy is being able to do it in the comfort of your own home.  Because we use the latest TeleHealth video conferencing technology we make it easy to have a face-to-face consultation at home.  Our video platform can be used by anyone with any mobile device or computer that has a microphone and webcam.


Includes Your Choice of Any Mask In Our Catalog

We want to help you put your mask problems behind you, so we’ve made every mask in our catalog available to you.  With the advice of your therapist, you have plenty of options to choose from including the latest and greatest masks on the market.


CPAP TotalCare Web-Based Therapy Management Software

The CPAP TotalCare web-based software makes it easy to track your therapy results, manage your equipment maintenance schedule, ask questions and get answers from qualified CPAP Therapists, find and view relevant videos, store documents and share them in a secure environment, and so much more!

The CPAP TotalCare software allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the data that is coming from your CPAP, as well as other health devices, with your very own personalized Therapy Dashboard. Look deeper into the health data you are creating and invite your clinicians to view your information to help maximize your therapy. With your personalized Therapy Dashboard you will be able to set goals and see how you are progressing over time.

With CPAP TotalCare you receive:

  • Interactive Checkups To Track Your Therapy History and Device Data
  • Equipment Notifications & Maintenance Reminders
  • Video Reference Library & Searchable FAQ Tuned Specifically for Your Equipment
  • Track Your Therapy and Health Data From All Major CPAPs
  • Store and Share Your Health Documents in a Secure Environment
  • Easy Self-service Supply Ordering

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

If at any time during the next six months you are not 100% satisfied with the service and results you get from this program, simply let us know and we will fix the problem. If we cannot fix the problem to your satisfaction, return your mask for a full refund.

Fees & Registration

All of the features of the program are available to you for a one-time fee of $249.

Remember, under the program you get unlimited video-conference support from an experienced professional, a new mask from any mask in our catalog, unlimited mask exchanges until you find the right mask, access to our full catalog range of masks, a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and much more.

Now is the time to get the help you need to resolve your mask issues and start getting the most out of your therapy. Don’t put up with an uncomfortable or leaking mask any longer.

Complete the information below right now to get started…

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CPAP Mask Explained

What is a CPAP mask?  The CPAP mask provides the “seal” to allow the pressurized air flow into the airway, thereby holding it open.  Obstructive sleep apnea patients, who are treated with CPAP, wear a face mask during sleep which is connected to a CPAP machine through a tube.  The CPAP mask forces air into the nasal passages at pressures high enough to overcome obstructions in the airway and stimulate normal breathing. The airway pressure delivered into the upper airway is continuous during both inspiration and expiration.

People who work in sleep medicine often hear the question “what is the best CPAP mask”?  Unfortunately, there is no right answer for this.  In reality, the best CPAP mask is the one that works for you.  Like other choices in life, CPAP mask choice can be complicated and what might seem to be a good CPAP mask at first, turns out not to be the best one.  So, how do you choose?

A variety of CPAP masks exist:  nasal masks, pillows masks, full face masks, oral masks and hybrid masks.  The nasal CPAP mask typically covers only the nose, a “pillows” mask is configured with two cushions, each slightly inserted into the nostrils, a full face mask is one which covers the nose and mouth, and oral mask only covers your mouth and a oral/nasal mask covers your mouth and has nasal pillows for your nose.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of CPAP masks…

  • Nasal CPAP Masks
    • Nasal masks combine the minimal design of nasal pillows masks but with slightly more coverage over your nose. The nasal cpap mask cover the entire nose and is held in place with headgear, or with straps around the head. It has a silicon cushion in triangular shape, that helps make the fit more comfortable. If you have air leaks problems, it’s because the nasal mask is too big, is too old, or it has the wrong style for your face.  Facial hair can also cause air leaking with a nasal mask.
  • Nasal Pillows CPAP Masks
    • A nasal pillows mask work best if you wear glasses or read with the mask on, because some nasal pillow systems obstruct vision less than do full face masks. You can even read in bed or watch TV in bed with nasal pillows.  A Nasal Pillows CPAP mask is very easy to put on and take off at night- especially if you have to run to the bathroom. You can easily slip the nasal pillows back on with out loosing your ability to fall back to sleep quickly.  However, they may not work if you are the type of person who moves around a lot in your sleep or if you sleep on your side.
  • Full Face CPAP Masks
    • Full face masks cover more of your face to accommodate people who mostly breathe through their mouths.  It is perfect for the mouth breather, or for those patients suffering from allergies, a deviated septum or nasal congestion.  A  full face mask has a triangular shape. It seals around both the nose and mouth, and is held in place with headgear, or straps.  The full face CPAP mask also contains a  hard plastic  frame which keeps a softer inner cushion in place. This cushion lies against the face and has an important role in maintaining a good seal and comfort.  Full face masks also have head gear which consists of straps and sometimes a forehead brace.
  • Oral CPAP Masks
    • Oral CPAP  masks allow you to use only your mouth to breathe the air from CPAP.  Because it uses just your mouth only, it’s important to have heated humidification to prevent dryness of the oral tissues.  This type of mask is good for patients who breathe mostly through their mouth, who cannot use a full face mask (claustrophobia) or patients with nasal problems (nasal congestion, deviated septum, etc.).
  • Oral/Nasal CPAP Masks
    • Oral/Nasal CPAP masks cover the mouth and has nasal pillows for your nose. So, it doesn’t cause skin irritation by covering your nose.  The hybrid mask is good for mouth-breathing patients who don’t like using a chin strap or full face masks, for patients who are claustrophobic or for CPAP users with irritation on the bridge of the nose.

Almost all masks require some type of headgear to keep them in place.  In general, your CPAP mask should not fit tight on the face.  The CPAP mask should be lightweight and fit the shape and size of the nose and your facial structures.  The CPAP mask should be comfortable and not have leaks.  You may need to make some adjustments to your mask to achieve these goals.

The fact that there are many different companies that make CPAP masks, and that each company makes the “best one”, can be tiring and confusing.  So, don’t become overwhelmed with the choices.

Rather than point you to one specific CPAP mask or another, here are some thoughts and suggestions.

  • When you are first diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) it may be overwhelming. You have to learn how to work a CPAP machine, to review the information that is collected on the machine, to worry about humidification…….then thinking about the right CPAP mask can seem impossible.  It is OK to feel this way!  Do not be worried about asking for help. Everyone adapts to CPAP therapy differently.
  • If you have been struggling with CPAP for a while, finding a different CPAP mask option can be helpful on your road to success, ask your care provider for help with achieving your CPAP usage goal.
  • We have provided a link to the most current mask options, look to see what is available, and remember CPAP masks are always being revised and new ones come onto the market frequently.
  • Some of you might be a CPAP warrior!  Great work! You love your CPAP and mask, but still might want to look for other newer options. You might just find a new favorite!

If your mask is not working out for you, remember… you are in charge of your therapy!   The important point is that you (yes you!) can ask your CPAP equipment provider to help you get the right CPAP mask.

Before you start looking for a new mask there are a few things you need to think about:

  • the size and shape of your face – the mask has to “follow” the shape of your face or nasal orifices to minimize leaks,
  • the shape and size of your nose – to avoid the excess pressure from the mask frame (if it’s a nasal or full face mask),
  • the shape and size of your nasal openings and interior passages – if you want to use nasal pillows, these interfaces have also different shapes and sizes. Find the ones for your nose,
  • your sleep position – some masks work better for side sleeping, others for sleeping on the back.
  • other conditions – are you claustrophobic? Then a full face mask will be difficult to tolerate. Are you a mouth breather? Then nasal mask or nasal pillow will not work without the help of CPAP chin strap.
  • try CPAP mask liners, they can make living with your CPAP much easier.

If you would like professional assistance with CPAP mask selection and fitting, consider purchasing our Professional CPAP Mask Fitting service.  Tell us about your current mask… model & size, what you like about it, what you don’t like about it, what kind of problems you are having with it, etc., and one of our experienced CPAP Therapists will select three mask options for you. We’ll send you all three masks to try and your CPAP Therapist will be available to help with fitting challenges or questions via telephone or video chat.  Each product will also come with an online video showing exactly how to fit each mask.  Use all three masks and keep your favorite.  (Or keep all three at a great discount!). Learn more… (links to offer page)

Finally, a couple of ending thoughts:

  • Nothing about me, without me…… getting the right CPAP mask is your right!  Don’t settle!  Be your own advocate!
  • A good question to ask yourself is “how can I make sure that I am getting the right things that I need, when I need them?”  It is OK to ask your providers these questions and have them explain their choices.  Be empowered!
  • To quote Winston Churchill, “never, ever, ever, ever give up”; remember, there are many CPAP mask options for you!  Be empowered!  Explore, be curious and ask many questions.  It is the responsibility of the clinical professional to listen to you and provide you with what you need.

Information about CPAP mask problems…

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