Solving CPAP Mask Problems: Getting the Right Fit on a CPAP Mask

Get the Right Fit of CPAP Mask

A CPAP mask is the most important piece of CPAP equipment you’ll use, and also the trickiest to use correctly. Many doctors and sleep therapists who see thousands of patients will tell you that the number one CPAP therapy complaint is mask fit. Your machine is only one part of CPAP therapy—your mask is more important as it’s what you’ll be wearing on your face every single night. Comfort is very important with the biggest issue being properly fitting the mask to your face shape. The mask should feel comfortable and secure when you’re sitting upright and when reclining in a sleeping position. It is important to test the mask while sitting upright and lying down and at various pressures in order to ensure a good fit without leaks. Additionally, try shifting in ways you would normally move during sleep—side to side and on your stomach- to ensure the mask remains in place, adjusting the headgear and checking for leaks.

Steps On Getting the Right Fit on a CPAP Mask:

· If it is the first time you’re fitting a CPAP mask, do so during the daylight hours and before you become tired. You’ll need to re-adjust the mask a few times before it fits properly and you grow accustomed to it.

· Ensure that all straps are as loose as possible.

· Hold the mask up to your nose and connect the headgear to the proper locations. It helps to do this step in front of a mirror.

· Make sure the CPAP mask is properly on the nose bridge using any adjustment straps to adjust its location. Gently pull for a secure fit. Make sure the mask is snug but not overly tight. A common problem is over-tightening so be sure the mask is just secure enough to create a proper seal.

· If the mask is too tight, the silicone cushion that creates the seal can “fold over” on itself, giving air places to escape and causing leaks.

· If you have long hair, hold it up in a ponytail while putting on the mask. Once secure, let your hair down over the back headgear.

· Finally, turn on the CPAP machine to make sure there are no leaks. If so, it’s best to start over. The time spent getting the right fit will provide a more comfortable, overall CPAP experience.

My CPAP Mask is Leaking:

If your CPAP mask is leaking, there are several steps you can take to solve the problem. Remember it is important for the mask to be snug but not tight. Firstly, readjust the headgear and make sure to place the cushion properly. If your CPAP mask headgear has a chinstrap band, check to make sure it’s not too tight as it might pull the mask downward. If your CPAP mask has nasal pillows, rotate the nose cushions or try a different size to help secure the fit.

It is difficult to get familiar with wearing a CPAP mask every night. If you find one that works best for you and fits and adjusts properly, the benefit will be a great night’s sleep. There are many varieties of CPAP masks and accessories that’ll meet your needs—not everyone sleeps the same way. If you lie on your stomach or if you toss and turn, there’s a CPAP mask that will work for you. If you’re uncomfortable with a CPAP mask that covers your entire face, you may prefer a nose pillow CPAP mask that has minimal headgear and seals inside the nostrils. Take the time to consult with a knowledgeable source and experiment with CPAP masks and accessories to find the one that works best for you.

Chris Vasta CPAP Expert & President at The CPAP Shop


Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…

38 Comments Leave new

  • Dee

    I am new to CPAP. I have the DreamWear full face mask. It covers my mouth and has holes that sit directly under my nose. I cannot tell if I am doing it right. If I loosen it, it leaks when I roll on my side. If I tighten it, it sort of hurts my chin unless I open my mouth, but then it leaks. I only know because it whistles a bit or blows into my eyes depending. I shift it around but am starting to get frustrated. It has only been a week though. Any tips?

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Dee! You shouldn’t have to tighten the mask so much that it causes discomfort. The mask should be snug, not too loose to cause leaks. If you can’t seem to find a good balance, it’s highly possible you’re using the wrong size. We have a printable sizing guide available to check… On the dreamwear page, click the tab marked. ‘Guides’. Click on ‘Sizing Guide’. This will bring you to a pdf file that you can download & print so you can see if you’re using the correct size.

  • Nicole

    I have the dream wear one that covers your mouth and has a upper open part that blows out air. This is my fourth mask (from just nose ones) they were suppose to give me full one and gave me this. Dk if it’s too tight or what but I’m still so tired throughout the day and on the app it says my ago numbers were really high then now 0. does that mean it’s reading like I’m not wearing it? I’m getting annoyed bc they won’t call me back (their probably sick of me calling) but it’s been months and it’s annoying I went to LA and didn’t wear it and felt no difference. Am I wasting my time?

    • Chris Vasta

      Hello, Nicole. We recommend that you keep using your PAP machine as prescribed. They mask you described seems like the Philips Respironics Dreamwear Full Face mask. The Dreamwear full face mask coves your mouth and has an opening for the button part of your nose to sit in. Perhaps, you would be more comfortable with a more traditional full face mask.
      If you can, please send us a screenshot of your App’s report so we can try to help regarding the concern with numbers.

  • Janice

    Why does my cpap head gear make my scalp itch?? What can I do to elevate the problem?

  • Dana

    I just got my air fit 20 yesterday – last night I kept tightening the straps due to the air coming out of the mask and woke up early with a huge headache and my jaws were also hurting. The bridge of my nose was also hurting. Any suggestions?

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Dana, sounds the mask is not the right size for you. You shouldn’t have to tighten the straps on the mask so much that they cause pain. Sounds like the mask is too big or too small. I would try a different size cushion.

  • Gloria Jording

    If i use a nose mask my sinuses are running and sneezing all day. If I use a full mask (nose and mouth) I’m OK the next day. I use a humidifier. Explained why

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Gloria,
      humidity levels may need to be adjusted when using a full face vs a nasal mask. not enough humidity with nasal mask may dry out the nasal passages causing your issues

  • Paul

    I have no leak when I start but I wake up in the middle of the night often with my CPAP’s full pressure and I have a lot of air coming out from all over and I constantly have to reseat the mask. Is this normal?

  • Gerrie M Woodard

    Just got it yesterday my message gave me a red face mask leak I have no clue what I did wrong

  • kentd

    tenderness & inflammation of nose after using 3 wks.


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