If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor will administer the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment to minimize the disturbing symptoms of this disorder. These devices work by pushing air through the airway as you sleep to prevent signs of apnea. However, most patients still do not understand why these masks are causing skin irritations more than usual. Read on to discover whether CPAP masks have latex, whether they can cause a skin rash, and what you can do to prevent a CPAP mask skin irritation.
What is a CPAP mask made of?
A typical CPAP mask is made of hard plastic and covered with a silicone cushion to seal and secure your face without making you uncomfortable. Others are made from soft rubber or vinyl. Ideally, they are tailored for people who breathe through their noses when sleeping. But if you breathe through your mouth when asleep, consider getting a headgear wholly fitted with a chin strap to keep your mouth closed.
Depending on your skin type, you may get mild or severe skin irritations a few hours of wearing it. So if neither of these materials suits you, talk with your physician to help you find the best alternative. The last thing you want is to get irritations as a side effect of wearing a CPAP mask.
Can a CPAP cause skin rash?
While getting a CPAP mask is the best option to manage sleep apnea problems, they may cause irritations on people with sensitive skin. If you are wearing an older full-face mask, you have higher chances of getting skin irritations and sores. The thought of getting redness, sores, blemishes, and blisters is enough to make you avoid wearing the mask altogether. So, can a CPAP cause a skin rush? Here are some of the reasons why you are experiencing these irritations:
A tightly worn mask is likely to cause a skin irritation regardless of your skin type. If you notice that the red marks from the mask have not disappeared within an hour of removing it, then it is too tight.
- Wearing the wrong face
Patients have different facial structures that determine the type of mask that suits them. If you find yourself adjusting it more often to prevent leaks, it is not suitable for you. Even if the mask fits perfectly but leaks occur more often, the mask doesn’t suit your face size and structure.
- Prolonged use of the silicone cushions
The silicone cushions will eventually get old and worn-out due to prolonged use. When you fail to replace them, you will be forced to tighten the mask so that it fits your face. This will cause skin irritations.
- Skin type
If you have an oily face, your mask may slide more often. Manufacturers already have options for people with oily skin, but they may not be effective for long-term users.
- Unhygienic cushions
Sweat and natural oils from the skin can cause dirt buildup in the mask. Even if you wash your face every night before wearing it, it will still catch dust and other dirt particles from other places.
How to prevent CPAP mask skin irritation
The use of CPAP masks is inevitable if you want to manage your sleep apnea problems. Getting skin irritations depends on whether the mask fits you perfectly and the material used to make it. To avoid sores, blemishes, redness and other skin irritations, consider the following remedies:
- Good hygienic standards
It is advisable to wash your face to get rid of makeup, oils, and sweat before wearing your mask. Avoid applying creams and lotions on your face as this may cause a dirt buildup and chaffing on the cushion when it slides around. For bearded and mustached users, trimming the facial hairs is one of the best ways on how to prevent CPAP mask skin irritation.
Over time, bacteria and other microorganisms may gather inside and outside your mask if it is not cleaned regularly. This may cause pimples and other skin irritations. To clean it, use a mild soap and warm water or specific wipes at least once a week. Alternatively, you can place it in a Lumin CPAP cleaner. Avoid using alcohol, vinegar, or any other harsh commercial product to wash it.
- Buy properly-fitting masks
A good CPAP should neither be too tight to cause discomfort nor too loose to cause leaks. Before buying one that does not suit you, check out the templates online to determine which size you need. Even if you have already bought one, the template can help you to get an alternative mask that suits you. Alternatively, you can request your doctor to measure your face to recommend the right one for you.
- Prevent mask dryness using a humidifier
A CPAP mask that is not correctly moisture will cause dryness in your nostrils and mouth. Use a humidifier to provide moisture to the air passing through the tubes.
- Place CPAP machine lower than your head
Ideally, your CPAP machine should be placed lower than your head as you sleep to prevent the chances of a rainout. If the temperature of your bedroom is cooler, try adjusting it to be warmer. Also, you can change the humidifier settings or wrap them with your blanket to provide warmth.
- Regular replacement of CPAP supplies
If you are using an old CPAP mask, it is time you replaced your supplies. The silicone cushion, filters, tubes, and other components are likely to get old worn-out. This may force you to tighten the mask more than often. Get a reliable online provider to remind you when to replace them and have them shipped to your home regularly.
A CPAP mask can help you with sleep apnea, but only when it is worn correctly and it suits your facial size and structure. The last thing you want is to have breathing difficulties and experience skin irritations, which may take months to clear. Understanding how a CPAP mask can cause skin irritations will help you make the necessary changes so that you can have a peaceful night’s rest. If you are stuck at what type of mask to buy, see a physician or visit online platforms to get more insight on the templates.