Facial hair and wearing a CPAP Mask

Shaving and CPAP Masks

I really like my Fisher & Paykel Simplus CPAP mask because it is very comfortable and I get consistently good results with it.  In an earlier post, I talked about a bout of CPAP mask rash that I’d gotten because of some skin care products that didn’t like the silicon of the Simplus mask.  The other small irritant I’ve started to notice with my mask is the whiskers on my face when I don’t shave for a few days.

I’m the first to admit that I can be a bit slack about shaving.  I don’t like doing it.  It really is that simple.  My skin is pretty good, I’m not one of those guys who suffers from bad razor burn or anything like that, I just dislike shaving.

I’m also pretty lucky that I’m not constantly dealing with customers or clients in my line of work, so if I haven’t shaved for two or three days, nobody really cares.

Unfortunately, I sometimes let that stretch out to four or five days and that’s where the problems begin with my CPAP mask.

Beards And CPAP Masks Don’t Get Along

The first thing I notice is that my face gets itchier in the night and I find myself half awake poking my fingers inside the mask scratching my chin or my top lip.  That breaks my seal, causes leaks and just generally makes things annoying.

Unlike many people, I don’t really have a problem with tightening my Simplus mask up really snug.  Waking up with indent marks from the straps on my cheeks isn’t a big issue for me, so when the leaks start from me jostling the mask, I just tighten it up.

The second problem is a bit more of an issue and that’s the heat.  All of that extra fur on my face makes it quite a bit hotter under the mask, so I sweat around my mouth a bit which tickles and causes me to scratch more.  This perpetuates the whole itching and leakage issue even more.  Cue the tightening of straps.

The last issue is just that whiskers cause the mask to slip and move around more.  That leads to more leaks and more nocturnal irritation… And cue the tightening of straps.

Like I said, the tight straps don’t bother me but they do wake up my wife sometimes and they disrupt my sleep and that’s more annoying than shaving.

I have no idea how men with full blown beards tolerate wearing full face CPAP masks.  To my more facially hirsute CPAP brothers, I salute you!

I think the simple answer is, in my battle to stay atop my sleep apnea, I’m just going to have to shave more… Or hope my face becomes desensitized, either way, works for me.

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As a long term Sleep Apnea sufferer, Sean has researched the topic extensively and tried several different therapies and lifestyle changes with varying degrees of success. His efforts now are focused on helping people get diagnosed early and begin treating their Sleep Apnea to avoid long-term health impacts.

2 thoughts on “Shaving and CPAP Masks”

  1. I too use a full-face mask and now a days I shave daily, I find it easier to have a not too tight face mask on my face at the same time I have no choice I use the mask or I suffer that’s my choice.

    It takes me a couple of minutes out of my day to shave using my new electric shaver and it makes all the difference.

    I have an automatic machine with a humidifier and it is great, 100% better than my old 15 years old clunker I got. I find sleeping now with the new gear just great and so quiet.

    • I probably shave every 2-3 days, I guess it depends on how much stubble you get – I’m pretty average. By day 3 it can get a bit itchy under the mask and the seal can become imperfect.

      But I’m lazy in that regard and I don’t mind having the straps really tight, so I get away with my laziness. LOL.

      The technology improves significantly every five years or so – I try out a lot of new gear as and when it is released, and I’m amazed at some of the progress in the machines themselves, although I do find the masks a bit hit and miss.


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