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Solving red marks & skin damage from your CPAP mask

CPAP can be a life-changing therapy, but it can cause problems that make it difficult to maintain comfortable and effective treatment.

One of the most common side-effects is skin irritation or damage where the mask sits on the face. Here we explain the three most frequent causes of this problem, and how to resolve them.


The most common cause of skin irritation is bacteria. The silicone in the CPAP mask cushion gradually gets worn away by skin oils, creating microscopic pockets in the surface of the cushion that bacteria can thrive in.

If you find that the red marks start occurring after a few weeks of using a mask, bacteria is almost certainly the cause. So the solution is simple; daily mask cleaning should keep bacteria to a minimum. Using a pack of CPAP Mask Wipes makes it simple to keep your mask clean.

However, while this will remove the majority of dirt and bacteria, some will still remain in the pockets described above; particularly as the mask gets older and the pockets increase in size and number. Even a visibly clean mask can be home to thousands of bacteria, and the red marks can remain despite thorough cleaning.

The only way to kill bacteria entirely is to sanitise the equipment, using a device such as the SoClean 2 CPAP Sanitiser. This kills bacteria, even those tucked away out of reach of even the most thorough cleaning. If bacteria is causing your skin irritation, SoClean should provide an immediate improvement in red marks.

At £239, the SoClean is not a cheap fix. However it does have a 30-day money back guarantee so you can see if it solves the problem for you. Under 1% of customers have returned theirs, so the chances of finding it beneficial are very high. If you're in the 99%, it becomes an excellent long-term investment. CPAP.co.uk has the UK's lowest price on the SoClean.


Red marks caused by bacteria tend to develop over time. If your red marks appeared within the first one or two uses of a new mask, an allergy to silicone is more likely to be the problem. This problem is slightly trickier to solve, as nearly all CPAP masks use silicone. Even gel masks have a fine silicone membrane. However, the SleepWeaver range of CPAP mask are made from fabric, making them most "skin friendly" masks on the market.

Another option is to use a mask liner, such as RemZzzs (shown right). These are cotton liners that sit between the mask and your face, creating a barrier that prevent direct contact with the silicone. These are one of the most popular accessories provided on CPAP.co.uk with consistently great reviews, perhaps unsurprising considering how common silicone allergies are. A sample pack costs just £6.99, so you can quickly and affordably find out if this option is beneficial for you here.


Another common cause of red masks is an ill-fitting CPAP mask. Sometimes leaks can cause patients to tightly strap the mask to their face, causing red marks and skin breakage.

One option is to loosen the mask. It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes a looser fit allows the mask space to adjust to suit. Also, fit the mask while lying down as gravity changes the shape of your face. A good fit upright does not always translate to a good fit lying down.

If you are simply unable to get a good fit, you can try a different shape mask that avoid the area that you are experiencing fitting problems. For example, full-face masks often leak and cause skin damage around the nasal bridge. An under-nose mask, such as the Resmed AirFit F30 (left), can avoid this problematic area entirely.

You could also try a different mask material. Sleepnet AirGel masks, for example, use an incredibly pliable gel in the cushion. This allows it to spread the pressure more evenly across your face, rather than have it concentrated in one or two spots. Their newest mask is the Ascend Full Face (right), which you can find out about here. It has a "Guaranteed Fit", meaning you can return it for a refund if it doesn't work for you. It your current mask isn't fitting well, the Ascend Full Face is a risk-free option. A nasal version can be found here.

Additionally, the RemZzzs liners mentioned about can also help to reduce leaks; allowing for the headgear to be set a little looser and reducing the stress on your skin.

We're here to help

If none of the above solve the problem for you, please contact us with more information about your issues, such as the problem you are experiencing and the mask you are using, and we can see what we can do to help.

Author: Jenny Hall

About author: Jenny Hall is a clinical manager at Baywater Healthcare. She has extensive specialist clinical experience from Regional Nurse Adviser through to Senior Nurse Adviser, Service Lead and Contract Manager. She has provided leadership for the Regional Nurse Advisers ensuring best practice, implementation of National Guidance and Clinical Governance. Ms. Hall has worked with Baywater Healthcare since 2013, with leadership responsibility in delivering Home Oxygen and Long-Term Conditions services. Her clinical team focuses on delivering services closer to home which offer the NHS value with optimum clinical outcomes. Previously, Ms. Hall provided leadership to Regional Nurse Advisors with Air Products, a company providing home oxygen services to Wales, East Midlands and North London. She has served as a Senior COPD National Trainer and Nurse Adviser COPD Response with Innovex, ensuring highest competencies were maintained and best practices delivered. Ms. Hall has a Ba Honours Degree as a Registered General Nurse from Oxford Brookes University and MSc Health Studies from Staffordshire University. She completed Respiratory Education and Training Courses and the Edinburgh Sleep Course. Jenny Hall’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenny-hall-34331b60/

2 thoughts on “Solving red marks & skin damage from your CPAP mask”

  • dean hubbard

    hi I use a amara view mask but have started getting a sore nostril my left side my nose is very tender in the morning?

    • Giny Humbles

      Hello Dean. I would advise you to check that you have the right size mask and try watching some fitting video. Please make sure that you give a good clean to your mask every morning and that before you go to bed at night, you face is clean and dry. You might also want to consider the mask liners. A soft cotton fabric liner creates a barrier, absorbs skin oils and reduces air leaks as well as skin irritation and pressure marks. Try a sample pack for just £6.99. https://www.cpap.co.uk/remzzzs-cpap-fabric-mask-liners.html

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