a CPAP machine with arrows pointing to different parts of the mask and tubing with post it notes showing question marks and a volume symbol

Troubleshooting Your CPAP Mask Issues

Becoming a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) user means you will at some point have a mask issue.

I’ll take you through my most common mask issues and how I’ve resolved them.

Marks on your face

At 1 point or another, you will run into waking up with marks on your face from your mask. Now there are a couple of reasons.

Mask is too tight

The most common 1 is when you think you need to wear your mask so tight to prevent any leaks, which is NOT what you should do. Your mask should be secure but not plastered to your face.

The best way I have found to get a good fit is to turn my machine on, place my mask on my face, connect the straps, lay down, and then adjust the straps. Adjusting your straps sitting up feels completely different when you lay down. It actually feels tighter.

For the proper fitting of your CPAP mask, check your mask's manufacture fitting guide.

Sleeping on your mask

Another reason is simply from sleeping on your mask. If you are a stomach sleeper or a side sleeper, this is a common issue. I sleep on my side, and even though I take my pillow and push it back, I still manage to wake up with marks on my face. Marks that go away after I shower.

Request a mask fitting

I should say, if your marks are lasting hours, then you are wearing your mask too tight. If you have made adjustments and it continues to be an issue, you should make an appointment with your home care company for a mask fitting. The mask is the critical part of therapy. If it's not comfortable, you won’t wear it. So it’s very important to find the right mask.

Mask leaks

Have you woken up to a whistling sound, or have you been abruptly awoken by your bed partner because of that whistling sound, aka mask leaking? Yep! Me too.


Be prepared because, at one point or another, you will have your mask leak. It’s common if you are a side sleeper because the mask shifts. I push my pillow back and hang my mask off the side of the pillow. It may be a simple fix of just needing to reset your mask. You do this by pulling your mask away from your face and putting it back on.

Improper fit

The other issue could be that your mask doesn’t fit you properly. I have had masks ride up, or down causing leaking under my chin and in my eyes. Both are extremely annoying. To ensure your mask is the right size for you, it’s important to be fit by a respiratory therapist. All the mask manufacturers have size guides for their masks for this exact reason. You need to be wearing the correct size. Sometimes it's trial and error till you find the right one.


Cleaning is also important to prevent mask leaks. I like to clean my mask weekly and wipe it down daily. Remember, we have oils on our skin, and those oils get transferred to our mask and cause it to breakdown, which can cause leaking. If you regularly clean your supplies and continue to have mask leaks, it is probably time to replace your supplies.

Interested in reading more about getting the most out of your CPAP? Explore our featured collection of tips and tricks for CPAP users.

Have you had issues with your CPAP mask? What happened and how did you resolve it? Let's learn from each other! Share with our community in the comments below.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SleepApnea.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.