CPAP Mask Rash

Rash From CPAP MaskI’ve had the strangest problem.  I was just in the bathroom washing my hands at work and I noticed that I have a big red rash on my face where my Simplus full face mask sits while I sleep!

I’m not sure when or how it appeared, it certainly wasn’t there when I left the house this morning, but it’s there now.  I’ve been struck by CPAP mask rash.

I think I know what happened.

Shaving and CPAP Masks

Last night before bed I decided to shave.  I find that when I have cleanly shaven skin my mask gets a better seal and my AHI is reduced slightly.  Also, I must admit, it saves me time in the morning during my mad rush to get ready for work and get out the door.  One subtle difference in my shaving routine last night though, I used a new skin care product –  an after shave gel to cool my skin.

Clearly, the silicon of the Ssimplus mask has some kind of reaction with the after shave and irritated my skin while I slept.  The rash doesn’t hurt really, my skin is a bit more tingly than normal and a little itchy now that I think about it, but it’s not burning or anything like that.

The bigger problem, of course, is that I look a bit silly with this red rash ring around my mouth.  Nobody has commented yet and I’m about two hours away from finishing work for the day, I’ve got one telephone conference and a half hour meeting to get through without being completely embarrassed!

Obviously, the lesson learned from this episode is that I need to make sure that I don’t use any skin care products on my face before I use my mask and go to bed.  My wife is going to give my CPAP mask a really good scrub today to make sure there’s no residue on it and exacerbate the problem while I’m sleeping tonight.

Hopefully, this silly looking irritation goes away overnight, I’d hate to wake up in the morning with it again.  Has anyone else had a similar problem?

14 thoughts on “CPAP Mask Rash”

  1. well im not using any skin care products and still am getting a dry eczema type rash, mask burns to be close to my skin. its really irritating. seeing that you have to use the machine, but yet it gives me a rash catch 22

    • Hi Nathan,

      It is a nasty catch 22.

      Have you seen Pad-A-Cheek mask liners? I’ve not used them, but they are a microfibre cover for your mask and thus create a small barrier between your skin and the silicone seal of the CPAP Mask.

      They’re only about $20, so it might be worth trying them out and seeing if they help you out.

      Let us know how you’ve gotten on if you choose to try them!

  2. I was told by my doctor that the red rash is actually a fungus, similar to atheletes foot or jock itch. I would consult your doctor about yours.

    • Hi John,

      Yeah, I suppose it was a minor fungal infection, but it was caused by the face cream I’d used but forgot to wash off.

      Lesson learned! I’ve not made that mistake again.

  3. I would agree with the doctor. I had something similar and tried a few different creams. What worked best was something for athlete’s foot and jock itch. Lesson learned, I plan to wash my mask more often.

    • Hi Meg,

      I have found that just giving my face a really good wash with no soap or anything before bed and then using a Resmed Mask Wipe on the mask before using it worked a treat for me.

      Glad you found your solution though!

  4. I have this rash & think I am allergic to what the mask is made of. I am going to my Respiratory specialist next week to see if we can find something else I can use. I have heard the cloth things interfere with the seal, so I don’t know if I would want to try that.

    • Hi Donna,

      The masks are usually made with medical grade silicone so it’s not out of the question that you may be allergic to it.

      I’ve tried those cloth things out of interest in the past as an experiment and I could see how they would cause “seal” issues.

      I wear my mask really tightly and getting the tightness balanced is a challenge. If the top is too tight when I’m asleep the seal around my chin breaks and if the top is too loose, the air escapes into my eyes which is super annoying.

      When I tried the cloth covers a few times, it wasn’t a problem for me with the seal because of how tightly I wear the mask.

      Hope you and your sleep tech find an answer. It might be worth trying a different brand of mask.

      Just as an aside, my sleep technician told me that a number of women have problems with rashes because of their night time “beauty regimen”. They apply skin products and creams but don’t wash them off and the silicone interacts with that.

      The other one he told me was that sometimes if you have heated air flowing through it can cause your skin to sweat a bit and this causes some irritation. I never use the heat setting on my CPAP machine.

      Good luck!

    • Hi,

      I wear my mask every night and have done for the past four years since I got the CPAP machine – the quality of life change has been massive. You don’t know how much of fog you’re living in because of lack of sleep until you actually get a good night’s sleep with the CPAP machine.

      Sean.

  5. The American Sleep Apnea Association notes that both dry skin and excess skin oil can keep your mask from forming an effective seal. Moisturizers and petroleum-based products can react with the part of the mask that touches your face; however, the ASAA suggests you look into specialty moisturizers designed for CPAP mask users.

    • Hi,

      My skin is naturally pretty good, so I don’t need moisturizers.

      Occasionally the weather gets a bit dry here in Sydney and so a moisturizer can help.

      Since my rash problem a few years back, I’ve stopped using moisturizers on my face and haven’t had an issue since.

      Sean.

  6. I have the exact same rash as in the photo. I have been using a CPAP for over five years and this is the first time this has happened. I didn’t think about it but I bet it is from a different soap I was using.

  7. I got blotchy red skin from the silicone face mask and now use the Res Med soft or air-touch masks. You just can’t put them in the So-Clean device.

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