Your CPAP Mask: Hazards Of A Dirty, Worn Mask & Mask Maintenance

If your doctor advised you to begin using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to treat your sleep apnea, then you may already be obtaining a better night's sleep when using the machine. However, if you want your machine to continue to improve your health instead of jeopardizing it, you need to clean all of its components properly on a daily basis and replace components when they become damaged or worn. 

One CPAP accessory that you must keep in good shape to ensure you reap the full benefits of the machine is your CPAP mask. 

Read on to learn about the hazards of wearing a dirty or damaged CPAP mask and CPAP mask maintenance guidelines that you should follow to help it perform its job effectively and safely. 

Dirty or Damaged CPAP Mask Hazards

While you may think of your face as relatively germ-free, it is actually covered with many tiny organisms that are invisible to the naked eye, including many types of bacteria and many tiny, transparent mites, called Demodex mites, that live within your hair follicles and feast on the sebum they produce. Some types of yeast or fungus also live in human skin, including facial skin.

If you do not clean your CPAP mask thoroughly on a regular basis, these organisms can accumulate on your mask and cause skin infections and/or rashes when wearing your mask. 

In addition, over time, the mask seal becomes worn and brittle, which reduces its ability to form a tight seal with your skin. When your mask is not sealed tightly against your skin and allows air to leak out of it, you may no longer reap all of the benefits of your CPAP machine, and the air that leaks out around the mask seal can irritate your eyes. 

Mask Maintenance Guidelines

Thankfully, you can help prevent skin infections and ensure that your mask always forms a tight seal with your face by following the right CPAP mask maintenance guidelines. 

To keep your mask relatively germ-free, you should simply wash it in hot, soapy water every morning after you take it off and then allow it to air dry thoroughly. Also, be sure to wash your face thoroughly every evening before putting your mask on to prevent the spread of any harmful bacteria on your face to your mask. 

To ensure your mask performs its job properly by sealing tightly with your face, first avoid the use of heavy night creams that contain oils that can damage the seal over time. In addition, replace your mask seal and cushions about every two weeks before they become too worn to provide a tight mask seal. The mask itself should be replaced about every couple of months or sooner if it shows signs of wear or damage. Proper CPAP mask maintenance can help prevent skin infections while also helping your machine perform its job properly. You can order new mask components from a CPAP accessory re-supply company.