man in pain holding cpap mask

How To Fix Common CPAP Mask Fit Problems

February 27, 2024 | |

There are many styles of CPAP masks available for sleep apnea patients. But, they are not one size fits all. These masks must fit specifically to each individual for them to be effective and comfortable.

The more comfortable and effective the CPAP mask is, the higher the compliance rate will be. If you struggle with your CPAP therapy every night, then an uncomfortable mask might be the problem. 

A proper CPAP mask fit is crucial to overall CPAP success and comfort. If your CPAP mask is ill-fitting, you are probably not receiving the optimal treatment sleep therapy can provide.

If a mask is too loose, you may experience frequent air leaks. If the mask is too tight, you may experience discomfort and red marks or irritation on your face. 

CPAP therapy has helped millions of people all over the world get a better night’s sleep. They improve their quality of life by feeling more alert and energized during the day. Knowing the common reasons why a CPAP mask may be ill-fitting will help you to solve any problems right away to not disrupt your CPAP treatment. 

Understanding CPAP Mask Fit

CPAP masks play a critical role in CPAP therapy as they deliver continuous positive airway pressure. A CPAP mask is attached to a CPAP and the pressurized air allows you to sleep peacefully at night with a steady airflow. To get the most optimal performance, your CPAP mask should have an airtight seal for comfortable and effective airflow. 

Common CPAP Mask Fit Problems

CPAP Mask Sizing

  • How incorrect sizing can lead to discomfort: A CPAP mask can be too small causing pinching or too large causing leaks. Or its shape might not fit well with your facial structure causing discomfort.  Any of these issues can make the mask uncomfortable and ineffective causing the user to stop therapy.  


    Since faces come in many different shapes and sizes, it is important to choose a CPAP mask that meets your needs and features. Depending on the manufacturer, there are a variety of styles and sizes a customer can select from.

    CPAP patients can choose from a full face, nasal, or nasal pillow mask. Each style accommodates varying needs and your doctor may even recommend one that is suited best for your prescribed pressure settings. 
  • Importance of selecting the right mask size based on your facial features: Once choosing the style mask that works for them, CPAP patients can then choose from various designs. Some, for example, are designed with smaller, more petite components to better accommodate women. Some masks are designed to better accommodate those with facial hair or those who wear glasses. The right mask for will vary based on your nose, chin, cheeks, and facial shape.

Understanding CPAP Mask Types


As mentioned, the styles of CPAP masks are Full Face, Nasal, and Nasal Pillow. 

Full face masks: cover both a user's mouth and nose and is intended for those who are mouth breathers or are prescribed higher-pressure settings. While some people report feelings of claustrophobia because of the larger design, this type of mask is very effective in delivering CPAP therapy.

  • The ResMed AirFit F30i Full Face CPAP Mask combines comfort and minimalistic design with top-of-the-head tubing and a hollow frame. This provides efficient airflow, a more complete seal, and a proper fit on the face. This mask is a little less bulky than traditional full face masks and the cushion sits under the nose for more of a comfortable experience. 
  • The Philips Respironics DreamWear Full Face CPAP Mask features an under-the-nose design to reduce the bulkiness of the mask, providing comfort and freedom, unlike any other masks on the market. Contrary to traditional masks, this mask has a minimal contract to the face, reduces red marks, and the headgear has four points of adjustments so that every CPAP patient can find their perfect fit.
  • The Fisher & Paykel Evora Full Face CPAP Mask has an innovative design that allows easy movement which lets the user sleep comfortably without compromising their mobility. The under-the-nose seal of the cushion helps maintain a clear line of sight and the unique design of the mask helps keep the mask in position at all times, no matter what position the user chooses to sleep in. 

Nasal masks: cradle or cover only a user's nose and were designed to be a comfortable solution that allows users a clear line of sight to read a book or watch TV. Additionally, this type of CPAP mask is beneficial for patients who change sleeping positions throughout the night. Because of its compact design, it may not be the best option for those who require higher pressure. 

  • The ResMed AirFit N30 Nasal CPAP Mask is lightweight, small, and has QuietAir technology which diffuses air through vents to decrease the noise while exhaling and avoid sleep disruptions. This mask has minimal facial coverage and a comfortable seal to prevent nasal soreness, discomfort in the bridge of your nose, and red marks. 
  •  The Fisher & Paykel Evora Nasal CPAP Mask has a gentle, soft-knit design that promotes no marks on the face. The most innovative feature of this mask is the CapFit headgear, which fits on as simply a typical cap, and was designed to eliminate over-tightening and trial-and-error adjusting to maintain a secure seal. This, combined with a snug fit, results in a mask that is both comfortable and effective.
  • The Philips Respironics DreamWear Nasal CPAP Mask offers freedom to its users so that they can sleep in any desired position without risking skin irritation, red marks, and sore throats. The soft silicone frame is non-slip and the nasal cushion promotes extreme comfort and reduces the weight which benefits users with facial hair and allows an open field of vision.

Nasal pillow masks: sit underneath the user's nose with two pillows that sit inside the nostrils. It is the most compact of these three types and is a great option for those who wear glasses or have facial hair. Similar to a nasal mask, this mask cannot sustain high-pressure settings. 

  • The ResMed P10 Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask is 50% lighter and quieter than the most popular nasal pillow masks on the market. Its lightweight design delivers more comfort for users, while the mesh-vent technology reduces noise, which increases compliance. It has reduced facial contact and thus reduces the chances of red marks while also providing a minimalistic appearance. 
  • The ResMed AirFit P30i Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask consists of only 3 parts for easy cleaning, maintenance, assembly, and disassembly. It also features a tubing connection at the top of the head for more comfort and freedom of movement. It includes QuietAir vent technology, which disperses exhaled air quietly to not disturb the user or their bed partner. Additionally, the SpringFit frame with small built-in ridges enhances flexibility while adjusting to the size and shape of your face. 
  • The ResMed Swift FX for Her Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask is a nasal mask designed with female users in mind. The design is more petite to offer female patients a more ideal fit for their smaller facial shapes and contours. This mask is easily adjustable with simple straps for users to find their perfect fit and offers a customized approach to CPAP therapy for women that helps ensure compliance.

Leaks and Poor Seal

A CPAP mask may feel like air is "leaking" through the mask, which is not ideal for the patient as all of pressurized air is not making it to their airway, reducing therapy effectiveness. If you are experiencing frequent mask leaks, that is indicative that your mask is on too loosely and allowing air to leak out. Try to fit your mask a little tight by making the headhear a little more snug around your head. 

If adjusting the fit does not help, it may be time to replace your CPAP mask parts as they can get worn out or damaged over time. Most components of a mask need to be replaced on a monthly basis to ensure optimal performance and CPAP success.

CPAP Mask Sizing

You may need to try a few different masks out to find one that works for you. Testing different masks will determine which design is best for your facial shape and size.

If you don't know which mask is right for you, The CPAP Shop is ready to help! Not only do we offer a 30-day mask-free trial, we have partnered with MarkFit AR to offer hassle-free, personalized shopping recommendations. All you have to do is answer some questions and scan your face using your smartphone, and we'll help you find the best mask that fits your needs. 

Troubleshooting CPAP Mask Fit Problems

Adjusting your headgear straps properly will help you achieve a better fit. Some patients prefer to do this when they are lying down so that the fit is accurate and will mimic that exact size when they are ready to receive therapy and go to bed at night. 

Make sure that your mask is properly aligned on your face and your cushion is in the correct place to receive the pressurized air. Your headgear and frame should sit on your head and not cause any unwanted pressure or irritation. 

Tips for Comfortable CPAP Mask Fit

For optimal performance that includes both a correct fitting and clean mask, make sure you are regularly cleaning and maintaining your CPAP mask parts. Clean your cushion daily and headgear and frame weekly with mild soap and warm water. Rinse them thoroughly and then lay them out to airdry before putting your mask back together.

Replacing your mask compents is also very important to a quality fitting mask. Replace your cushion every 30 days, your frame every 3 months, your headgear every 6 months and the elbow when it becomes damaged or worn out. 

If you are still struggling with your fit and seal, your healthcare provider should be able to help. Additionally, our staff at The CPAP Shop would also be happy to help you. Give our team a call all 866-414-9700


People with sleep apnea who are using CPAP therapy already have much to deal with. Changing a routine that has been the same for many years can be difficult. Not to mention wearing a CPAP mask all night long. There is always a period of adjustment for all CPAP users. Having a comfortable and properly fitted CPAP mask makes the transition much less bothersome.

Make sure that if you notice your CPAP mask is not fitting correctly you address any issues right away to not delay or hinder your CPAP success. Having replacement parts on hand is a very beneficial way to make sure you are always receiving the best therapy. 

The CPAP mask experts at The CPAP Shop can assist you in finding the perfect mask.  Just call us at 866-414-9700 or visit our website today!

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.