What causes CPAP mask rash?
If you wake up with red and irritated skin around your mouth, you are most likely experiencing some kind of mask rash. There are many possible causes for your discomfort, and determining which one is creating issues for you is the most important step in getting relief.
Bacteria is one of the most common causes of mask rash. Your CPAP pushes warm, moist air through the hoses and mask and into your lungs. You then most likely store your CPAP equipment in a dark place like a bag or a drawer. Put these together and you have the perfect conditions for bacteria to thrive.
This is why the FDA and most CPAP manufacturers recommend you clean your equipment every day. Left alone, these bacteria can grow and cause the irritation you are experiencing overnight. The easiest way to clean your mask is with soap and water or specially-made cleaning products like Sleep8’s Mask M8tes cleaning wipes.
The wipes are great for cleaning your mask, but the downside is you can only clean what you can reach. The Sleep8 CPAP companion uses ozone to permeate every inch of the mask and tubing.
2. Your mask needs adjusting
You wear your CPAP mask for up to eight hours a night — that’s a long time. If your mask isn’t adjusted properly, it could be causing the issue.
A mask that is too tight presses into the skin and can rub it uncomfortably. This is especially true if you have a tendency to toss and turn as you’re sleeping, potentially pushing the mask around with your arm or even the pillow.
On the other hand, if your mask is too loose it may slide around on your face and have a similar effect. A mask that is too loose may also leak. The trick is finding that perfect pressure so that you can enjoy a good night’s sleep and wake up without the irritation.
If you continue to struggle even after readjusting your mask, you may simply need a different size or a new style. Many CPAP manufacturers make minimal contact, under-the-nose masks designed specifically to address this problem.
3. Silicone allergy
While silicone allergies aren’t common, they do happen. If your mask started irritating you in the first few days of use, you might have an allergy since it is too new at that point to have developed bacteria.
If you think you may have an allergy, there are several companies that make cotton mask liners that sit between you and the mask. These have several benefits beyond just preventing you from contact with the silicone mask; they also reduce leaks and reduce pressure marks on your face from wearing the mask all night.
If you suspect you may be allergic to silicone, a professional allergist should be able to test and give you a definitive answer.
Don’t let mask rash ruin your commitment to better health.
Getting adjusted to a CPAP is hard, especially at the beginning. If you are suffering from mask rash it makes it that much more difficult and could tempt you into giving up.
CPAPs have huge health benefits beyond treating sleep apnea, they improve cardiovascular health, help control diabetes, and can even help prevent hearing loss.