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

  • Rod

    was wondering if using the cloth full face liners are ok for a good treatment since i dont think they seal perfect i use a f-10 full face mask

    • Chris Vasta

      The mask liners will help to create a barrier which will help prevent skin irritation and will help with minor leaks, but if you are still getting large leaks the mask size may need to be adjusted.

  • Diana Jones

    My CPAP always has the red face

    • Chris Vasta

      Sorry to hear that you are continuously getting the red unhappy face on your CPAP machine. If you would like to discuss other mask options that may suit you better, please reach out to one of our customer service representatives at 1-(866)-414-9700.

  • Dennis McFadyenv2k5e8

    i get dry mouth and dentist said dry mouth causes cavities what do i do dont want to lose my teeth

    • Chris Vasta

      To help minimize dry mouth, you can use the Somnifix mouth strips or a chin strap with your current CPAP mask. Adjusting the humidifier may help as well.

  • Chris Tabakelis

    I am a side sleeper and my mask leaks all the time. I shift the mask around and it still leaks. I get very frustrated. I had to tighten my mask but could be a little too tight, as it leaves a mark on my face. Any suggestions? I am on my 3rd mask. Because my cushion mask makes my mouth open and so I had to go to the mask that goes under my nose and over my mouth. But is pushes up against my nose and makes my nose sore. Any suggestions?

    • Chris Vasta

      If you over tighten the mask it could actually cause the mask cushion to leak. Which full face mask are you currently using?

  • Rose

    My mask is causing 1/2 of my nose to be sore and red…and hints to prevent this?

  • Jason

    I have a deviated septum and need to use a full face mask unfortunately. I have always been a side sleeper and even purchased a CPAP pillow from Contour and find I still can’t sleep on my side successfully without the mask shifting or air leaking. I find that air leaks more toward the early morning hours (a few hours before having to wake up). Any suggestions that would help to sleep on my side with the full face mask? Again, with a deviated septum I have few choices for masks.

  • Jim Curtis

    I use a snore guard with my cpap full face mask (phillips respornics) and my AHIs have been ranging from 0.6 to 2.0. Suddenly they have jumped as high as 11.0. I have adjusted and readjusted my mask. But nothing seems to work. Do I need a better face mask.

    • Chris Vasta

      Hello, Jim. Were you using the snore guard when you were getting the lower AHIs? Have you been changing your mask cushion every two or three months?

  • Gary

    I have an F+P Simplus.. to get rid of nose leak I drop in down on my nose a little but then the bottom is below my chin. To minimize leakage I have to wear it too tight. Can I go from a medium cushion to a small cushion or do I need to get a new mask?

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