FAQs: How can I make my patient's mask more comfortable?

Mask comfort

A comfortable mask is easier to wear and provides a better treatment experience. To help you improve your patient's experience and reduce discomfort, we've provided answers to some frequently asked questions below. 

 

My patient experiences some discomfort while wearing a mask. What should I do?

If your patient's mask is uncomfortable, try re-fitting it or try a different size or type of mask. 

  • Fit. Mask discomfort can be caused by an incorrect fit, so we recommend that you re-fit the mask using the fitting instructions in the mask user guide. You should fit the mask while your patient is in sleeping position: our facial muscles change when we lie down and they relax even more when we sleep. You can also check out the mask fitting videos found in our CPAP mask product section, or read our FAQs on mask fitting.
  • Size. If your patient can only get a good seal by tightening the mask until it’s uncomfortable, then the size of the mask may be wrong. Please note that sizing across different models is not always the same.
  • Type. If the patient still finds that wearing the mask is uncomfortable, you might need another type of mask. ResMed offers full face masks, nasal masks, and nasal pillows; you’ll find that some mask types and models may suit better than others. View ResMed's complete range of masks here.

If your patient is using a ResMed mask that has a MicroFit™ Dial, make sure the dial is set at the optimal position. Making significant adjustments to the position of the dial will change the fit and might result in discomfort or less effective treatment.

 

My patient's mask is leaking. How can I fix this?

If your patient's mask is leaking air, there's probably a problem with the seal or the fit. Reasons for mask leak, and suggested solutions, include: 

  • Poor adjustment or fit. We recommend that you re-fit the mask using the fitting instructions in the mask user guide. You should fit the mask while your patient is in sleeping position: our facial muscles change when we lie down and they relax even more when we sleep. You can also check out the mask fitting videos found in our CPAP mask product section, or read our FAQs on mask fitting.
  • Incorrect assembly. Please see the mask user guide for information on assembling the mask. You can download the user guide from the mask support page.
  • Wrong size of mask. Your equipment supplier should be able to provide the correct size of mask.
  • Wrong type of mask. If your patient's mask is the right size and is properly fitted but is still leaking, another type of mask may be needed. For example, a full face mask can completely eliminate mouth leaks. View ResMed's complete range of masks here.
  • Needs replacement. Your patient's mask might be leaking because it's old or worn out. Please see the mask user guide for information, or read our FAQs on mask replacement.
  • Cleanliness. Dirt, oils and residues from your patient's skin and surroundings can build up on the mask if they are not removed daily. Your patient should clean the mask every day to optimise the seal and efficiency. Read our FAQs on mask cleaning.

If your patient is still having problems with leaks, why not try using a heated humidifier or one of the latest positive pressure (PAP) devices ? Our new PAP devices automatically measure and compensate for unintentional leaks to ensure the correct pressure is maintained. Heated humidifiers can greatly reduce mouth breathing and nasal congestion, both of which are associated with leaks. 

 

My patient says the mask is really noisy at night. What should I do? 

If your patient's mask is noisy, it might mean that it doesn't seal properly. See our recommendations above: make sure the mask is properly fitted, correctly assembled, clean and in good condition. If your patient is still having problems, try a different size or type of mask.

Remember to fit the mask while your patient is in sleeping position: if they sleep lying down with no pillows, fit the mask like that; if they sleep in a recliner, fit the mask that way. This is important because our facial muscles change when we lie down and they relax even more when we sleep.

Mask noise can also be an indication that your patient's mask is leaking air. This is a common problem that can arise if the mask doesn't seal properly or doesn't fit your patient's face properly. Please see the previous answer for suggestions on how to resolve this problem. 

 

My patient says the mask often gets removed during sleep. How can I resolve this problem? 

If the mask is being removed during sleep, it may be because your patient suffers from nasal congestion. If your patient has a history of sinus and allergy problems, treatment with a full face mask and/or humidification may be a better solution. 

 

Which is more comfortable? A nasal mask or full face mask?

Everyone is different! Full face masks cover more of the face, while nasal masks and nasal pillows masks cover less. It really does come down to personal preference and which type of mask best suits your patients’ needs.

Our full face masks are a good option if your patients suffer from nasal congestion or tend to breathe through their mouths when they sleep.

When discussing mask types with your patients, you might want to consider factors such as their facial anatomy, their facial hair, whether or not they wear glasses or are claustrophobic, whether they like to read or watch television while wearing their mask, etc.

 

Will facial hair affect the comfort or seal of my patient's mask? 

If your patient has facial hair, some masks might work better than others. Contact your equipment supplier to find out whether a different style of mask might offer more comfort or a better fit.

 

My patient says that the mask appears to cause skin irritation. Does this mean my patient is having an allergic reaction to the mask?

ResMed mask cushions are made from silicone. True allergic reactions to silicone are extremely rare. In fact, skin irritation, pressure sores and blisters are more commonly caused by other associated factors rather than the silicone material itself.

If your patient is suffering from skin irritation, it might be that: 

  • The headgear strap is too loose or too tight. Try re-adjusting it, or replacing the headgear if it is old or worn out. The mask should be as loose as possible while still creating a seal.
  • The mask doesn't fit well, because it's the wrong size or an unsuitable style. Consult the mask user guide or quick-fitting guide for instructions on fitting. A different style of mask may provide a better fit.
  • The mask is old and worn out. Inspect the mask cushion and frame for wear, stiffness, cracks or breaks. Replace either the mask or parts that are worn out. You might find it helpful to read our FAQs on mask replacement
  • The mask is dirty. Silicone can absorb contaminants such as oils, sweat, dirt and creams from skin. Extended contact with these contaminants during the night may irritate the skin. Your patients should wash their masks daily according to user guide instructions with mild soap or diluted liquid detergent and warm water (30°C/86°F). We also recommend that patients wash their face before bed to remove excess facial oils, ideally with a pH neutral soap, and avoid using facial lotions and creams where the mask comes into contact with their face as these products may interfere with mask seal and potentially degrade the quality of the cushion over time. You might find it helpful to read our FAQs on mask cleaning

If your patient is still having issues with skin irritation, it might be helpful to place porous hypoallergenic skin tape over sensitive or irritated areas to create a barrier between the skin and the mask.

 

My patient’s nose appears to be irritated by the mask. What should I do?

If your patient is suffering from nasal irritation, a heated humidifier might help. Constant air flow, especially at high treatment pressures, can lead to dryness, nasal irritation and nosebleeds. Humidifiers provide relief from nasal irritation and dryness by adding warmth and moisture to the air delivered by the CPAP or bilevel system.

Nasal oil products can also be used to help treat and prevent dryness.

 

My patient wakes up with face marks and a sore nose (bridge), seemingly caused by the mask. What should I do?

Patients’ whose masks leave marks on their face, or experience soreness on the bridge of their nose, are probably having to strap the mask too tightly to make a seal. Please see the answers to the first two questions on this page for suggestions on improving the fit and seal of the mask. 

If these problems persist, why not suggest SoftWraps or Gecko nasal pads? SoftWraps are gentle cloth padding for the mask's silicone headgear that help to stop your patient's mask slipping and reduce the appearance of strap marks on the face. The Gecko nasal pad is a comfortable, soft strip that is placed across the nasal bridge to help reduce skin irritation and facial sores, minimise mask leak, and improve overall mask comfort.

 

My patient’s eyes keep watering. What should I do?

If your patient's eyes are sore, it may be due to a mask leak. This is a common problem that can arise if the mask doesn't seal properly or doesn't fit the face properly. For suggestions on how to resolve this problem, please see the answers to the first two questions on this page.

 

My patient's nose is blocked on one side from a deviated septum. Which type of mask is best for this situation?

With a deviated septum, it’s probable that your patient breathes through the mouth some of the time. A full face mask will give the option of breathing through the nose and/or mouth. If the mouth is dry in the morning, that's a good indication that your patient is breathing through the mouth during sleep.

 

My patient finds it difficult to sleep because the mask gets in the way. What should I do?

Your patient might find a Contour CPAP Pillow helpful. With the Contour Pillow, the mask is less likely to rub or press on the face, which increases comfort and can also reduce leakage caused by distortion. The Contour Pillow helps patients sleep more comfortably while wearing their CPAP mask whether they sleep on their side, their back or their stomach, and it also helps to create a more open airway for easier breathing.

Do you have a question about mask comfort that isn’t on this page? Click here to submit an online inquiry