Combating Mask Irritation
One of the most common complaints among CPAP patients is skin irritation from their mask. Many people assume that they must somehow be ‘allergic’ to the silicone in the mask. Silicone allergies are actually extremely rare, which is why it’s used in surgical implants, and even to coat some hypodermic needles to allow them to smoothly pass through the skin. What then is causing the irritation?
First of all, most people have more sensitive skin on their face than they realize because it’s not in constant contact with foreign objects. Sometimes all that’s required is time, and the skin will toughen to the point where it’s not irritated by the mask. (For new patients, it may also be that a properly sized or fitted mask is needed. Mask fitting is initially a trial and error process, and one we’re more than happy to help with.)
Secondly, many patients don’t change their masks often enough. The seals become looser, which requires more tension on the headgear to make the mask work. This extra pressure is often the culprit. Not only that, but if the mask has not been cleaned properly and regularly, bacteria that forms in the presence of the oil and dead skin can cause surface skin infections.
The best defense?
- Change masks or seals on schedule.
- Clean your mask thoroughly at least weekly.
- Do not over tighten your mask.
Give me a call on (509) 697 5793 and I would be happy to talk about your sleep therapy needs.
Thayne has been in charge of the respiratory department at Howard’s for almost two years and has a degree from Central Washington University.