Discover the solutions to 7 common CPAP mask problems | ResMed

How to solve 7 common CPAP mask problems

CPAP mask issue in bed with partner ResMed blog in UK

January 10th 2023

Are you struggling with your CPAP mask? Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is an effective way to treat obstructive sleep apnoea, so it’s important you feel comfortable and confident when wearing your CPAP mask. To help you experience therapy that leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed in the morning, we’re going to explore seven common mask issues and explain how to solve them. The aim: a well-fitting CPAP mask, comfortable therapy, and good sleep!

Solutions to common CPAP mask problems and concerns

It’s worth taking some time to find a CPAP mask that fits your face well and meets your therapy needs. A well-fitting mask is more effective because it’s less likely to leak. A good fit will also be more comfortable, which means you’ll be more likely to wear your CPAP mask every night and experience the benefits of consistent sleep apnoea therapy. There are a few different ways to solve this issue.

  • Solution One: Find the right CPAP mask
    In an ideal world, everyone would start therapy with the right CPAP mask, because a mask that suits you and your sleep habits can really help when you’re getting used to treatment. But even if you don’t get the right mask first time, it’s never too late to change and make a fresh start.Your mask needs to reflect the way you sleep, your needs and the shape of your face. ResMed groups its masks into three categories (Versatile Fit, Minimalist and Freedom) and offers different mask types (full-face, nasal and nasal pillows) across the categories. This means you can choose a category that reflects your sleep preferences and then find a mask type that meets your therapy needs. Learn more about choosing a mask here then talk to your healthcare professional, who’ll help you try out different styles and adjust the fit.


  • Solution Two: Learn how to put on and fit your CPAP mask correctly
    Small adjustments can make all the difference when it comes to mask comfort and fit. If you’re new to therapy, struggling with mask fit or getting used to a new mask, there are lots of ways to get help. The myAir app has useful mask-fitting videos and step-by-step guides for ResMed masks – if you’re in London, you can book a mask-fitting appointment at ResMed’s sleep clinic. You can also ask your healthcare professional for advice and get them to check your mask is the right size and fits well – remember, they want you to succeed with therapy too.Learn more about CPAP mask fitting and sizing with our blog article, ‘Getting my CPAP mask to fit and CPAP mask sizing guides’.


  • Solution Three: Adjust for facial changes over time
    Your face naturally changes over time. If you lose or gain weight, grow a beard or facial hair, or simply get a bit older, you might need a new mask or some fitting adjustments. Memory foam cushions can be a good choice if you have a beard (or want some extra comfort). Why not explore the different CPAP mask options in our eshop?


If you can hear or feel air leaking from your CPAP mask, don’t ignore it: this is an important problem that can – and should – be fixed. Mask leak can be uncomfortable, keep you awake and make your sleep apnoea therapy less effective, or even ineffective. The good news is it can be solved! If you can feel or hear air escaping from your mask cushion or you wake up with dry eyes, read on to learn our solutions for CPAP mask leak.

  • Solution One: Fit your mask correctly
    Mask fit matters. If your mask doesn’t fit properly, the mask cushion won’t form a good seal against your face. If it doesn’t form a good seal, pressurised air from your CPAP machine will leak out around the cushion. And if air leaks out, your CPAP therapy won’t be as effective at keeping your airways open and preventing apnoeas.Use the advice and information on the myAir app, or your CPAP mask user guide to fit and adjust your mask. It should fit your face snugly. Make sure you’re not overtightening the straps of your headgear: your mask shouldn’t feel uncomfortably tight. If you need more help, ask your healthcare professional for help with mask fitting or visit our sleep clinic in London.


  • Solution Two: Make sure your mask is clean
    Did you know that your mask seal can be affected if oil from your skin, face creams or make-up accumulates on the cushion? That’s why it’s really important to keep your mask clean; it doesn’t take long once you get into the habit. Check your CPAP mask user guide and the myAir app for specific daily and weekly cleaning instructions for your mask. If you need cleaning products, you can buy them on the ResMed eshop.


  • Solution Three: Maintain or replace your CPAP mask
    If your mask is clean, fits well and still leaks, the issue could be with mask components like your headgear and cushion. Just like clothes you wear a lot, these can become worn and get damaged and out of shape over time. Each time you clean your mask, inspect the components for wear and tear. If you notice cracking, discolouration or visible deterioration in any component, you’ll need to replace it. Fortunately, you can usually save money and reduce waste by buying spare parts instead of a whole new CPAP mask. Visit the ResMed eshop masks page and spare parts page to see what’s available.


Does your CPAP mask sometimes leave red marks on the bridge of your nose or on your forehead? These marks will disappear as you go about your day, but there are ways to avoid them appearing in the first place. Let’s look at four solutions that could help to prevent CPAP mask red marks.

  • Solution One: Avoid over-tightening your mask
    Your mask might leave marks if it’s over-tightened. The headgear should feel snug, but not too tight: the mask cushion will inflate slightly during therapy to provide the seal that you need. To get a good fit, follow the instructions in your mask user guide or on the myAir app.


  • Solution Two: Protect your nose with gel pads
    One temporary solution for red marks is to use polymer gel nasal pads. You stick the transparent pads to the bridge of your nose before putting on your mask to prevent the silicone cushion from coming into direct contact with your skin. The pads are simple and painless to apply and take off and they’ll protect the bridge of your nose while you sleep. You can buy nasal pads in the ResMed eshop.


  • Solution Three: Use a memory foam cushion
    If you have sensitive skin, a memory foam cushion can be a good alternative to a standard silicone design. The soft, breathable memory foam feels light against the skin and moulds to the unique contours of your face while you sleep. ResMed AirTouch™ F20 and AirTouch N20 masks feature a memory foam cushion, but you can also buy these cushions separately and use them with your AirFit™ F20 or N20 mask frame and headgear. This means you can switch between silicone and memory foam cushions whenever you like. All of these masks – as well as replacement memory foam and silicone cushions – are available in the ResMed eshop.


  • Solution Four: Try a different type of CPAP mask
    If gel pads and memory foam cushions don’t appeal, you could consider changing your mask. Red marks generally appear on the bridge of the nose or on the forehead, but minimalist masks avoid both these areas and sit under your nose instead. Explore our Minimalist CPAP mask options.


It’s not unusual to experience stuffiness or a dry mouth and nose when you use CPAP therapy for sleep apnoea. These nasal and sinus issues can be caused by the dry, cold pressurised air from your CPAP machine, or if you have mask and/or mouth leaks. Here’s how you can resolve these issues…

  • Solution One: Use a heated humidifier for your CPAP machine
    When you breathe normally, your nose warms and moistens the air. With a CPAP device, the air comes too quickly for that natural process to work properly and the dry, cold air can irritate your nasal passages and airways. Fortunately, most CPAP machines now feature a heated humidifier (either built in or as an optional extra) that warms and moistens the air before it reaches your mask. You can also buy heated CPAP tubing and tube wrap for an even better experience. Check out ResMed’s humidifiersheated CPAP tubing and tube wrap in our online shop.


  • Solution Two: Make sure your mask isn’t leaking
    If your mask is leaking, the CPAP machine will increase the airflow through your tube to try to ensure you receive air at your prescribed pressure. This higher airflow can contribute to a dry and stuffy nose, while the mask leak can cause other issues. Check section 2 above for more on combatting mask leak.A dry mouth meanwhile might be caused by ‘mouth leak’, which can happen if you’re using a nasal or pillows mask and breathing through your mouth. Switching to a full-face mask is a good way to resolve this issue.Take a look at your mask user guide and the myAir app for advice and support with mask fitting.


  • Solution Three: Try saline nasal spray and decongestants
    Saline nasal spray and decongestants can also help with a blocked or stuffy nose. They can be particularly useful if the problem is temporary, for example because you’re suffering from a cold, ’flu or hay fever. Read more about using your CPAP machine when you have a cold.


The first time you try on your sleep apnoea mask, it might feel odd and you may feel claustrophobic. You might wonder how you’ll manage to sleep with a mask and CPAP device. First, remember that millions of people use CPAP therapy every night so it’s definitely possible to get used to it! Second, check out our solutions below for ways to help you adjust.

  • Solution One: Break it down into small steps
    As the saying goes, there’s only one way to eat an elephant, and that’s a bite at a time! Instead of jumping straight into therapy, break the process down into stages. Start by simply holding your CPAP mask to your face. When you feel comfortable with the mask, turn on the pressurised airflow and slowly acclimatise yourself to that sensation too. After this, strap the headgear on and see how you feel.Once you’re comfortable with these short trial sessions, try using your CPAP device during a nap or while you’re watching TV. Knowing it’s just for a short period or having something to take your mind off it can help you to feel more at ease. As you become acclimatised to your mask and to therapy, you should feel less claustrophobic.


  • Solution Two: Use the sleep onset detection (AutoRamp) function on your CPAP device
    Sometimes the issue is less about the mask itself and more about the feeling of pressurised air coming through it. If that’s the case for you, see whether your CPAP device has a ‘sleep onset detection’ function (it’s called AutoRamp on ResMed CPAP devices. With AutoRamp, your CPAP machine delivers gentle air pressure when you turn on your device and then gradually increases to your prescribed therapy pressure when you fall asleep.


  • Solution Three: Try a CPAP mask with a minimalist design
    For some people, the shape and size of a CPAP mask can feel a little intimidating, but CPAP mask design has come a long way in recent years. For example, Minimalist masks cover less of your face thanks to their discreet design and they offer a wide field of vision because of their under-the-nose cushion. ResMed offers Minimalist masks in full-face, nasal and nasal pillows versions so there’s a option whichever type of mask you prefer. Switching to a Minimalist CPAP mask could change your experience and enable you to overcome your initial claustrophobia.Learn how to find a CPAP mask that suits your lifestyle and your sleep style and explore the different options. There’s a list of FAQs to help you choose the right mask. You can also download our free ebook that’s full of information to help you start and stick with sleep apnoea therapy.


  • Solution Four: Speak to your healthcare professional or the team at ResMed UK
    If claustrophobia is preventing you from using your CPAP therapy for sleep apnoea, ask your healthcare professional for advice. Other treatment options might be available. For free advice and support please call us on 0800 917 7071. Our trained staff will do their best to help you.


What if your issue isn’t with your CPAP mask but the tubing? The CPAP tubing that connects your mask to your CPAP device is an essential part of your equipment, but it can be inconvenient, especially if it gets in your way during the night or collects ‘rainout’ – find out how to tackle this below.

  • Solution One: Opt for a tube-up mask
    Tube-up masks have a streamlined design that gives you the freedom to sleep in any position you choose. Instead of connecting at the front of the mask, the tube connects to the top of the conduit frame. If you twist and turn in your sleep, prefer to sleep on your front, or would simply like to be able to tuck your mask tubing out of the way of your hands and face, a tube-up mask could be a good option. Check out ResMed’s range of tube-up CPAP masks.


  • Solution Two: Try heated tubing or tubing wrap
    When the air in your room is colder than the air in your CPAP tubing, condensation can form inside your tubing. This is a common issue known as ‘rainout’. To avoid being bothered by the drips and gurgling noises of rainout, you need to prevent the air from cooling and condensing as it travels from your device to your mask. ResMed’s ClimateLineAir heated tubing does this with sensors and heating elements to keep the air at a constant temperature. If you prefer a low-tech option, how about treating yourself to some tubing wrap, which can help insulate the tubing from cooler air around it? Explore your options on the ResMed eshop.


  • Solution Three: Use a specially designed CPAP pillow
    CPAP pillows are specially shaped to create space for your mask and tubing. They can help reduce mask interference and can prevent drag on your tubing that could cause it to leak. One option is the CPAPmax 2.0 pillow, which you can buy from ResMed’s online shop. The pillow has layers that you can adjust to the height that feels most supportive and comfortable for you and help align your head, neck and spine properly.


Getting used to CPAP therapy – both the pressurised air and the mask – can take time. It’s a big change, so be patient with yourself. Here are some solutions that could help you to stick with CPAP long enough to adapt to treatment and start enjoying the benefits!

  • Solution One: Use the myAir app
    When you’re starting something new and challenging, a little encouragement can go a long way. The free myAir app from ResMed is designed to help you stick with CPAP by offering advice, information, feedback and useful tools. Every morning, a simple sleep score gives you key facts about your sleep therapy – what was good, what could be better, and what steps you could take to improve things. You can also track your progress over time. Step-by-step videos walk you through equipment care, mask fitting and more. It’s like having a well-informed CPAP cheerleader on your phone, whenever you need information or a morale boost. Download the free myAir app now.


  • Solution Two: Make the most of CPAP device and mask features
    CPAP equipment keeps on evolving and improving. If your mask feels annoying when you’re trying to fall asleep, try the AutoRamp feature that will ease you into therapy. If noise is the problem for you or your bed partner, look for a mask with a QuietAir vent. The QuietAir diffuser vent is designed to minimise noise and gently disperse exhaled air. If you’re bothered by your mask tubing, consider a tube-up mask. If red marks or claustrophobia are the issue, look into Minimalist mask designs. There are lots of technical solutions out there, and they almost certainly include the right one for you!


  • Solution Three: Focus on the positives
    Your CPAP mask might seem annoying, but untreated sleep apnoea is also annoying and it can have a significant negative impact on your health and your quality of life. If your CPAP therapy is getting you down, try focusing on the positive health benefits of your treatment. Think about what you’re getting out of your CPAP therapy and why you’re doing it. Tracking your daily sleep score through the myAir app can also help to keep you motivated over time.


Are you having more general issues with your CPAP treatment?

If you’re having ongoing issues with your CPAP equipment or sleep apnoea therapy, talk to your healthcare professional. You should also schedule regular check-ups to ensure your treatment remains effective.

The free myAir app lets you view up to 90 nights of sleep data. This can help you prepare for appointments and understand what’s going well and where you might need extra support.

The sleep specialists at ResMed’s clinic in London can also provide you with an annual review, CPAP mask fitting and free product demonstrations. To find out more, contact the ResMed UK team.

Please refer to the user guide for relevant information related to any warnings and precautions to be considered before and during use of the product. 

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website. The views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice, or other institution with which the authors are affiliated and do not directly reflect the views of ResMed or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.