Types of Face Masks
Probably the key question, when talking about comfort, is which face mask suits you the best? As mentioned earlier, there are several types of CPAP machine masks, and they mostly differ in size i.e. area of the face they cover. So we have masks from covering the entire face (full-face masks) to minimalist (under-nose masks).
In general, we can divide CPAP machine masks into 3 types: full-face, nasal, and nasal pillow masks.
Full face mask, as the name suggests covers most of the face. It is the biggest mask type and covers both mouth and nose. This is the most common CPAP mask and many find it to be the most comfortable and practical. Although it is heavier and bulkier than other masks, it does offer the best seal (with an exception for people with more facial hair) and it is suitable for both mouth and nose breathers. The main issue with this mask comes from its bulkiness and size…it doesn’t allow too much motion or position changes during sleep. It is mostly suited for back sleepers (it is suitable for side slippers as well if combined with special CPAP pillows). Also, since it covers a bigger area and has bigger contact with the face, it can be problematic for people who have easily irritated skin.
Nasal mask, is a smaller “cousin” of the full face mask. Usually, with a similar design as the full face mask, just significantly smaller, nasal mask covers only the nose. They are an ideal choice for people who breathe through the nose and like sleeping on the side or tossing and turning during sleep. As full face masks, they are fixed with mask straps. Although it doesn’t cover the mouth, which is problematic for people occasionally breathing through their mouth, they are gaining huge popularity recently since many opt in to use chin strap which keeps their mouth closed. The downside of these masks is that it is difficult to use when having nasal congestion (so it’s a “no” for anyone who has frequent allergy issues), a nose injury, or a deviated septum.
Nasal pillow mask, comes as the upgraded solution to the nasal mask. This mask, contrary to the previous 2 masks, does not cover any part of the face. The nasal pillow mask sits right under the nose and uses silicone pads that fit just inside the nostrils. It is the ideal solution for anyone with facial hair, as well as for those who like sleeping on the side since these masks, same as nasal masks, allow a lot more freedom of movement during sleep. This mask however won’t be an ideal choice for CPAP users who are prescribed with the higher pressure settings, users with frequent nasal congestion, or allergies.