It’s happened to pretty much every CPAP user at some point — a little extra oiliness, some dirt and/or a mask that’s just a bit too tight, and suddenly your nose bridge feels like someone’s broken it, and/or looks like you’ve been in a bar fight.
The good news — there are more mask types than ever before. If you’ve already tried coddling your nose in every possible way described below and are ready for a radical mask makeover, try the FitLife mask from Respironics. It rests on the edge of your face, with no contact with the nose bridge, basically looking like a scuba mask (probably not ideal for a first-time sleepover).
The FitLife is best for fairly peaceful back sleepers who do not need to wear glasses with their masks. It does not appear well-suited for side sleepers, based on design and user comments. Facial hair won’t bother it, once the straps are adjusted properly.
Respironics also makes a cylindrical “(Total Face”) mask that curls around your face like a snake, which may work for you.
So what if your nose just needs a little TLC, not a new mask?
- Get rid of the oil, though this can worsen leaks in the short term. Use a CPAP wipe on the mask just before bed and some kind of oil-removing wipe/towel/formula on your face. Avoid moisturizers on your face, and consider tweaking your humidifier setting.
- Double-check your mask size. Have you gained or lost weight? Check the Web for printables that can verify your correct size.
- Use tape on your nose bridge, possibly multiple layers. Nexcare makes multiple tape types that are available in drug stores. Look for a fiber tape that is easy to make even pieces from (not all come in tear-off rolls). Certain bandaids and gauze combinations may work, too, but often come off during sleep — it doesn’t take much — and can make the damage worse.
- Whatever your tape solution, make sure it’s snug and secure before lying down. After sleep, remove it gently and make sure you blot any drainage fluid first thing. As always, don’t get overly invasive with a healing scab.
- Consider an antibiotic ointment for short-term use, ditto a steroid cream. Use no more than recommended on the label. Don’t apply just before you go out into the Seattle rain.
- Use ice (20 min sessions) during the day to reduce swelling, which aggravates poor mask fit.
- Ensure your room temp and any electric warming aids are not causing your face to sweat.
- If you wear glasses, try a bandaid targeted toward blisters during the day, so your glasses don’t make the injury worse. It never hurts to have your glasses adjusted, either, if they’re falling down your nose. Most optical shops will adjust your glasses at no charge.
Above all, don’t let nasal nuisances keep you from sleeping the full length of your sleep period with your machine and mask on. Not getting enough oxygen is way worse a problem than finding and fixing the source(s) of your nose woes.