How to Prevent Chapping of the Skin With a CPAP

Sleep Apnea

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Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, treats sleep apnea, a condition caused by obstructed airways during sleep that temporarily stops breathing. The CPAP system provides a constant source of air through a mask fitted over your nose, so your throat pressure remains constant and is unlikely to collapse. While the continuous stream of air blowing into your nasal passages improves symptoms, the pressure of the plastic mask on your face can chafe your skin.

Install a humidifier in your bedroom, or connect a specialized humidifier and flow generator to your CPAP. Adding moisture to the ambient air as well as the air flowing through your device can help prevent dry skin and chapping. Your CPAP machine and user manual will display the model number you'll need to have in order to purchase humidifier attachments.

Use non-medicated saline nasal sprays as needed to prevent chapped skin and dry tissues inside and around your nose.

Make sure your CPAP mask and strap fits correctly. Masks that are too big or small may rub against your skin, causing irritation and chapping. suggests choosing a mask that is lightweight and provides cushioning to make you more comfortable.

Apply a thin film of petroleum jelly on areas of skin that are dry to help prevent severe chapping and chafing from developing. Tighten the strap of your CPAP securely to keep the mask from sliding around on the jelly. The strap is attached to the front of the mask on both sides of the nose -- pull tabs to tighten as needed.