CPAP Mask Sizing Guide and Maintenance

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks and headgear come in many styles and sizes to comfortably treat your sleep apnea. Everyone has different needs and face shapes, so you may need to research a variety of masks before finding the right one for you. If you have been a particular size from in one manufacturer CPAP nose mask that doesn't mean you'll be the same size in others.

Here's a look at a few masks and possible benefits of each. Work closely with your doctor and CPAP mask suppliers to make sure you have a mask that suits your needs and fits you.

Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks

CPAP Mask - Nasal Pillow Sizing Guide CPAP Nasal Pillows have become very popular in the last few years. Like nasal masks they are recommended for use by patients who sleep with their mouths closed and are able to exhale through the nares. Nasal pillows are very small in size and have two flexible pieces, similar two a mushroom cap. The pillows fit gently into the nostrils and attach to an adaptor that fastens to the CPAP tubing. Rather than wearing a triangular mask that rests on the upper lip, nose, or cheeks. Users that suffer from allergies to interface materials, claustrophobia, patients with mustaches and beards as well as those who have a narrow nose bridge and shorter faces normally prefer nasal pillows to a mask because the pillows do not rest directly on the above mentioned areas.

Innovative devices have been designed for patients requiring positive ventilation therapy that allows the user freedom to speak, eat, drink, and wear eyeglasses without removing the device. The under nose reservoir is positioned across the patient's upper lip with the nasal inserts positioned in patient's nares. The tubing drapes comfortably over the patient's ears similar to that of a nasal cannula, thus stabilizing the under nose reservoir with the extremely lightweight "Y" coupling that rests on the patients chest, eliminating the need for uncomfortable straps and headgear. A Pillow Mask will normally consist of a durable plastic frame that supports the soft nasal pillow cushions that attaches to adjustable headgear.

If you have been prescribed a CPAP setting of 10 cmh20 or higher, CPAP Nasal Pillows are not recommended. Experienced CPAP users agree a Nasal Mask is a more comfortable option.

Nasal Pillow Advantages:
Nasal pillows are the least bulky way of delivering CPAP, and may certainly be the best choice for those who sleep on their tummy. As there is no mask over the bridge of the nose, glasses can be worn with nasal pillows. This, along with a better field of vision due to reduced bulk mean that patients who like to read or watch television whilst using CPAP often like this design. Nasal pillows do not rely on a seal being formed around the face, so if you are a very ‘active’ sleeper they may work really well. They are also the only effective choice for patients with facial hair.

Nasal Pillow Drawbacks:
The required air is blown directly up into the nostrils as a jet. If a high pressure of CPAP is needed, this can be uncomfortable for the patient. As well as the feeling of a jet of air hitting the back of the nose, nasal pillows can cause drying of the nose and even nosebleeds. As with nasal masks, this may not be the ideal choice of mouth breathers, although again nasal pillows can sometimes be provided with a chin strap to encourage the jaw to stay shut and breathing through the nose.

Nasal CPAP Masks

CPAP Mask - Nasal Sizing Guide Nasal Masks are the most popular masks used by CPAP patients. They are triangular in shape and rest gently over the nose, accompanied by a forehead strap and or pad that rest above the eyebrow giving added stability. If your CPAP setting is 10 cmh20 and higher the nasal mask is recommended. The Nasal Mask is suggested for CPAP users that sleep with their mouths closed and are able to exhale through the nares. The Nasal Mask is easy to use and comfortable while providing a constant stream of pressurized air that keeps the user’s airway from collapsing, thus minimizing the possibility of apneas. The smaller interface is often preferred over a Full Face Mask. Patients that find the Nasal pillows uncomfortable at higher pressures will find Nasal Masks to deliver a more comfortable and beneficial Sleep Therapy Treatment.

A Nasal Mask will normally consist of a durable plastic frame that supports a soft nasal pillow that attaches to adjustable headgear.

Remember, even if you don't mouth breathe, you may still be experiencing mask leaks. Any leak may contribute to decreased treatment effectiveness and consequently create symptoms of poor therapy and health. Speak with one of our associates today if you suspect a leak.

Nasal Mask Advantages:
Nasal masks are less bulky than full face masks. They may be better tolerated by people who are claustrophobic – although some do not like the contact between the nose and mouth along the upper lip. Nasal masks can achieve quite high CPAP pressures without causing discomfort. Nasal masks are made in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes so most people will be able to find a mask which fits them perfectly.

Nasal Mask Drawbacks:
Nasal masks are still quite bulky, and may not work well for tummy sleepers. As the mask fits over the bridge of the nose, it cannot be worn with glasses, so people who like to read or watch television before going to bed may not like this design. In addition, people with facial hair will find that the mask cannot generate a seal so will not work well, If you suffer with difficulty breathing through your nose, this will not be the best choice for you, as the air is delivered only through the nose.

Full Face CPAP Mask

CPAP Mask - Full Face Mask Sizing Guide Full Face Masks cover both your nose and mouth. If you mouth breathe or have mouth leaks, then a Full Face Mask will provide a number of benefits over a nasal mask. A full face mask will prevent air loss that can compromise treatment, and offer a resolution to dry throat and nose problems. If you mouth breathe or have leaks, you will not be receiving your full treatment pressure with a Nasal Mask, consequently you may not be getting the full benefits of your Sleep Therapy Treatment.

A Full Face Mask will normally consist of a durable plastic frame that supports a soft inner cushion that with minimal pressure rest against the face. The head gear is available with with few points of contact to the face or with forehead straps.

Remember, even if you don't mouth breathe, you may still be experiencing mouth and mask leaks. Any leak may contribute to decreased treatment effectiveness and consequently create symptoms of poor therapy and health. Speak with one of our associates today if you suspect a leak.

Full Face Mask Advantages:
Full face masks are the only masks to deliver air through the mouth so are ideal for people who have difficulty breathing through their nose – such as those with frequent nasal infections or a deviation of the nasal septum (cartilage ‘wall’ that runs down the inside of the middle of the nose). Full face masks are also excellent for people who need high CPAP pressure as air is channelled through both the nose and the mouth.

Full Face Mask Drawbacks:
This is the biggest type of CPAP face mask. Some people may not like the bulky nature of the design – particularly those who sleep on their tummy, or people who tend to feel claustrophobic. Because of its size it needs to create a seal over the largest area, and can therefore be more likely to leak. In particular some users find they may get a leak around the bridge of the nose, which allows air to flow up around the eyes causing the eyes to dry out. Facial hair a beard or mustache) is likely to stop the mask forming a good seal.

Deciding on a CPAP Nose Mask

Below is list of CPAP Nose Mask manufacturers we personally work with and can honestly comment on their strengths and weaknesses:
  • Phillips Respironics
  • ResMed
  • DeVilbiss
  • Hans Rudolph
Do not choose your CPAP by price. This is not an effective way to choose a mask that you will be wearing night after night. In no way does the price indicate how well the mask will contour to your face or perform for you.

If you are having a difficult time deciding on a mask that will best work for you, a CPAP expert is available to help assist you. 1-877-774-9271.

It is recommended that patients are first fitted for a mask at a physical location, sleep doctor or sleep center. If you are planning on sizing yourself you may want to have a friend or family member measure too. Two exact measurements are better than one! A proper fitting mask is more important than a CPAP machine full of bells and whistles. If your mask is leaking, you are not receiving quality sleep therapy. A quality mask, in the correct size, will provide a restful sleep and a more productive tomorrow. We offer a mask sizing guide to measure your nose and or face; however there are slight differences in sizes between manufacturers and models. We can offer assistance over the phone 1-877-774-9271 or by email Please take the time to measure correctly. We do not accept returns on opened masks. We have no mask exchange policy. A mask is a personal item that is worn by only one person. Once a mask package is opened, it is no longer resalable; therefore we will not offer a refund or exchange.

This is a guide to help you select the correct size mask system. There is no guaranty on mask sizing from using this information. No refunds will be given on any "opened" mask purchase. Measure carefully. Actual Sizing templates are available by e-mail or download. We would be happy to send you one! (Specify full face or nasal mask template)

Measuring Diagrams

NASAL MASK: Measure your actual nose size from top to bottom and side to side.
(NOTE: Some masks only come in a few sizes, so you will have to choose the closest one)

  • Petite: 1.5" tall, 1.5" wide
  • Small: 1.75" tall, 1.5" wide
  • Medium-Small: 2" tall, 1.5" wide
  • Medium Wide: 1.75" tall, 2" wide
  • Medium: 2" tall, 1.75" wide
  • Large: 2.25" tall, 2" wide
  • Large Narrow: 2.5" tall, 1.5" wide
  • Shallow: 2" tall, 1.75" wide, 1.25" deep or less
  • Standard: 1.75" to 2" tall, 1.75" wide
FULL FACE MASK: Measure straight down from the middle of your pupil to just below the lower lip. It may help to imagine a horizontal line extended from your lower lip to beneath your eye, so that you can measure straight down from your pupil.
1. Measure the width of your mouth in a natural position. (i.e. not smiling)
2. Make sure top fits at bridge of nose, and bottom covers mouth completely.

  • Small: 3.25" tall, 2.75" wide
  • Medium: 3.5" tall, 3.25" wide
  • Large: 4.25" tall, 3.25" wide
HANS RUDOLPH FULL FACE: Measure from top of nose to bottom of chin.

  • Petite: 3.5" tall
  • Extra Small: 4" tall
  • Small: 4.25" to 4.5" tall
  • Medium: 4.5" to 5" tall
  • Large: 5" tall

CPAP Nose Mask Sizing Guide
CPAP Mask Full Face Sizing Guide

CPAP Mask Fit and Adjustment

Once you have chosen your mask and style that best fits your unique facial contour, you will need to make the adjustments needed for a proper fit before your first slap therapy. Try sitting on the side of your bed, turn your CPAP machine on and place the mask on your face with the straps loose. Position yourself in bed as you would any other evening. With your head on the pillow, slowly and gently pull the straps to the point that feels comfortable and no leaks are present. Be patient it may take a few attempts but you will get it!

Maintenance of your CPAP Mask

The standard treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. When you first begin to use CPAP, there is often a degree of information overload. The maintenance needed for the care of your CPAP machine is minimal yet important in maintaining good health, sleep therapy and long life of your machine.

Cleaning your CPAP Mask:
1. Unplug the CPAP machine.
2. Disconnect the mask from the CPAP tubing. If the mask has a headgear, detach it. Remove any tubing from any connectors, the humidifier, or from the CPAP machine itself, if it connects directly.
3. If there is a humidifier unit, remove it from the CPAP machine, and separate it into its pieces.
4. Take a cloth and wet it with warm water. Gently wipe down the external surface of the CPAP unit.
5. Fill a sink or tub with warm water. Add a small amount of antibacterial soap.
6. Submerge the mask, headgear, tubing in the warm soapy water and allow it to soak for a about 30 minutes. Additionally, wipe the mask with a cloth and warm water, and use soapy water with the tubing. Air dry all components on a towel.
7. After everything has dried, reassemble everything. Apply the headgear to the mask, hook the mask back onto the tubing, and connect the tubing back into the CPAP machine. Turn the machine on briefly and listen for any air leaks.

Tips for Cleaning your Mask:
1. Keep your equipment clean.
2. If you have been sick recently, clean your equipment more often.
3. Follow the advice of your medical providers as well as the manufacturers instructions for cleaning your CPAP equipment.
4. Never use cleaning solutions other than antibacterial soap.
5. Do not clean your mask in a dishwasher or washing machine.

What You Need to Clean your Mask

  • Mask, headgear, tubing, humidifier
  • Soft cloth/towel
  • Warm tap water
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Kitchen sink, or tub
Your CPAP machine is only useful if it is used! Unfortunately some people really struggle with the nightly routine of putting on the mask, particularly when they have a loved one who shares their bed. Like most issues the solution is communication. Be open with your partner about your feelings and ensure they know the importance of your treatment. They need to understand that the CPAP machine is literally extending your life. The more you talk about the machine and acknowledge its existence the faster you will get over your embarrassment over using it. Remember, it is better than snoring!

Redness or Sore Spots on Face after Use
This is a common problem because the sleep apnea sufferer is wearing a mask tight to their face all night long. This can causes indentations in the skin around where the mask is pressing against your face and it may cause red sore spots where those pressure points exist. While most modern masks handle this pretty well there are a few things you can do:
  • Loosen your straps slightly so that they are not too tight. Make sure that your mask is still snug enough to prevent air leaks, but not so tight that it hurts your skin.
  • Consider buying pads that slip over your straps. Talk to your CPAP expert about options.
  • Talk to your CPAP expert about trying a mask that will mold to the shape of your face.
In addition to the sore spots where the mask presses against your face you may also find that you develop acne at the same spots. You can help eliminate this problem by making sure your mask is clean. It is recommended that you wash it with a mild detergent every week and every night before you put your mask on wipe your face and mask. This will help prevent acne from appearing.
Red eyes continue snoring or stop breathing during sleep

If your partner reports that you are still snoring or stopping to breathe while sleeping or if you wake up with red eyes these are signs that your mask is not fitted properly and that air is leaking out. Here are some tips to address this problem:
  • Adjust the straps and headgear on your mask to obtain a better fit.
  • If you have had your mask for a while, check to make sure that it is not worn or torn.
  • You may need to try a different size mask.
  • A different type of mask may work better for you. Either a full face mask or nasal pillows may eliminate the air leaks.
  • Talk to your doctor or CPAP expert about trying a mask that will mold to the shape of your face.
Nasal stuffiness is the most common side effect of CPAP therapy. You may also have a runny, itchy or dry nose, or nosebleeds. Nasal congestion often goes away after your first month of use. Keep in mind that many people with OSA naturally have an increased level of nasal congestion. This congestion is more common in the winter and during allergy season. It is not always a result of CPAP. Talk to your doctor if your congestion is severe, or if you have nasal, sinus or ear pain. The best solution is to invest in a CPAP humidifier. If you are not currently using a humidifier call our CPAP experts to assist in providing you with a solution.

Trouble Breathing Against the Pressure
CPAP therapy is applying a continuous flow of positive airflow that you breathe against, both on inhale and on exhale. For some this can be a difficult adjustment even though it is the basis for the treatment. This really is just a matter of adjustment, getting used to the machine. One way to solve this problem is to use the CPAP machine at various times throughout the day, even when awake like while watching television. Another way to solve this problem is to utilize the ramp feature of your CPAP machine which starts the pressure low and then gradually increases it. Setting the ramp to peak at 20 minutes may help experienced users say that they are asleep by the time the maximum pressure hits.

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