Nasal Cannula and Face Mask Comfort Tips and Hints

Our oxygen concentrators come with their nasal cannula and rubber tubing, but these are only suitable for patients who are in a stable condition. In the case of a COPD exacerbation or an acute flare-up of any kind, you will need to get a face mask, or a special face mask called a non-rebreather mask if a much higher dose of oxygen needs to be delivered.

Using any one of these types can become uncomfortable, but there are some things you can do to make them a little less uncomfortable.

Making the Tubing and Cannula More Comfortable

First, try on the cannula, and slide the adjuster up so that it fits snugly against your chin and jaw. Wear it for a few uses of your concentrator to see if it bothers you. If it doesn't, then you won't need to worry about it. Just because it feels fine for the first few uses, doesn't mean it will never bother you in the future. Other factors, such as the time of year and how dry your skin is at the time will make a difference in how your cannula feels. Here are some tips for fixing the problems that may arise.

If the rubber is chaffing up against your face, add padding to the tubing by wrapping it with white, fabric first aide tape. Double wrap it if you need to. Fabric first aide tape is easy to remove when it starts to get dirty, but this will make the contact points softer and smoother against your skin.

Educate yourself with our Free Oxygen Therapy Guide

If the nasal prongs are rubbing up against the insides of your nostrils and making them sore, there probably isn't enough moisture in your nose to keep it from rubbing them raw. Apply a thin amount of a water-based lubricant to the ends of the prongs. You can also use a saline nasal spray daily to keep your nasal passages moist enough for comfort. This is one of the problems that are more likely to happen during the winter when the air is arid.

Making Your Face Mask More Comfortable

You may need to try on several different oxygen face masks until you find the right one that fits your face. This may be hard to do since only some brands make masks in sizes other than small, medium and large. You might need to look for masks in a brand that creates extra small or extra large, or medium-large. Don't worry about being bothersome to your doctor or medical supply company – your comfort in using your equipment should be a top priority.

To avoid too much moisture and condensation in your mask, which can irritate your skin, wipe down the inside of the mask daily with a clean, lint-free cloth, and wash it in hot water and gentle detergent once a week to keep bacteria from growing. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to see how you should be cleaning your equipment in case there are any special instructions.

Page last updated: October 29, 2018

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

17 thoughts on “Nasal Cannula and Face Mask Comfort Tips and Hints”

  • Kris

    We are having a problem with my step dad keeping the cannula in his nose when he sleeps. Are there any tips or tricks to keep it on? We have tried to us a longer elastic to hold it on behind his head which has helped some but it still comes off in his sleep some. Thanks

    Reply
    • scottamsr

      I would recommend a soft hose cannula this is more pliable for the face and should not have any issues of this falling off and you can adjust the plastic bit to make the tubing more secure in the throat area which tightens this up around the ears keeping the nasal prongs in your nose.

      You can view it here: http://www.oxygenconcentratorstore.com/7-super-comfy-cannula/

      Let us know if you have any otehr questions.

      Reply
  • Chuck Leigh

    My wife's cannula would fall out when she was sleeping. I cut two 5/8" long pieces from the main tube of an old cannula. I slid them over the nose vents on her cannula, covering them to their base. The added length to the nose pieces now keeps them in place in her nose. It is not necessarily needed, but a drop of vinyl adhesive to the cannula nose pieces will help keep the extensions on.

    Reply
  • karen kasper

    we tried the gray padding behind the ears It still hurts. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Karen. We will need a little more information regarding your situation in order to best assist you. Which model and brand of mask are you currently using? If you'd like, you're welcome to reach out to our Service Department at 877-303-9289 and one of our representatives may be able to walk through some additional solutions for comfort.

      Reply
  • Lisa Long

    Client's tubing that goes around ears won't stay in place, we are constantly adjusting it. Any ideas to fix problem? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      What is the brand and style of tubing that you are currently using? A softer more flexible cannula may be the trick!

      Reply
  • jim rogers

    The plastic piece that slides along the two small tubes to keep the cannula in place always loosens after a few nights, allowing the cannula to come loose. Any tips on keeping it snug? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your inquiry, Jim. Have you recently replaced your cannula?

      Reply
      • Elizabeth Charles
        Elizabeth Charles October 28, 2018 at 1:21 pm

        I have the same problem. The slide won't stay in place from the time I start using a new one. I sometimes use a twist tie to keep it in place. Any other ideas? Maybe a slide that clamps?

        Reply
        • Margaret Goodman
          Margaret Goodman October 29, 2018 at 7:57 am

          For some people, they put the cannula on the backside of there head instead of leaving it in the front. For some that help it stay in place a little better.

          Reply
  • Barbara Miller
    Barbara Miller March 6, 2018 at 7:25 am

    I cut a womens ultra thin panty liner in half. They have adhesive on one side. I slip one under tubing on both sides of face. No more lines in the morning. And you can use more than once.

    Reply
  • Jan Mowery

    I just started wearing a cannula breathing device. I see lots of ear padding but the only thing I’ve seen for the nose is for the top. Does anyone make some type padding for the nostrils?

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman June 4, 2018 at 3:49 am

      Thank you for your inquiry. I have passed along your information to a specialist who will reach out regarding your request. For more immediate assistance feel free to give our specialists a call at 888-360-9628 or if you prefer email [email protected].

      Reply
  • Anna May Shaffer

    I just recently started using oxygen with tubing. I am having trouble keeping it on my ears. I already wear glasses and have been wearing aids that fit behind the ear. There isn't enough room on my ears for these 3 things. Do you have any suggestions what I may be able to do?

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman

      Try putting the cannula so that it hangs behind you instead of in front of you and then tightening the slider on the tub. This will help keep it on.

      Reply

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