Sores in nasal passage ways with CPAP mask

by Kimberly

I have the RESPIRONICS REMstarPlus M series CPAP machine and wear the full face mask by ResMed. I do not have a humidifier. I develop painful sores within my nostrils after 2 nights of using the CPAP. Any ideas as to why this happens even if I use a moisturizing agent (like vasaline) in my nostrils prior to sleep?

My nasal passages are not stuffed up either. When I wake up the sores are quite painful and will even bleed when I use kleenex. It will hurt so much that I can only use the CPAP machine 3-4 nights in a row. Then I have to wait for them to heal. Have you heard of this before? Anything I might be able to do for this?



Dear Kimberly,

Painful sores within the nostrils is a common side effect in CPAP therapy.

Personally, I never heard about sores in the nasal passage ways in patients with full face masks and using a moisturizing agent, but I'm sure that other experienced visitors might know something and probably they will comment.

Causes of sore in nasal passage ways

Kimberley, I will explain the general causes, and not the cause for your case, because I don't have many information about you. So, I would presume you've got one of the following:

  • a contact allergy with your full face mask material

  • your mask may be wrong for your face structure

  • you may develop a rubbing related sore due to a wrong adjustment of the mask

  • no humidity - and you acknowledged that you don't have a humidifier.

Treatments of sore in nasal passage ways

Before going to the more serious treatments (which means changes), try to use something simple first:

  • try Neosporin during the day while the skin of your nostrils is sore, and Ayr Nasal Gel every night whether inflamed or not.

  • an other healing ointment for the sore nose is Aquaphor.

  • the KY Jelly is famous in treating the sore nose, as I read in many forums for sleep apnea.

  • some patients have success with vaseline, but I wouldn't go with this product, because is a petroleum base and not compatible with the plastics used in the mask.

Let's get more serious now:

  • If the developed sore is due to the mask material allergy, the solution is to try the nasal pillows. The new models are much better, very comfortable, and eliminate almost all claustrophobia problems.

  • In the case of a wrong adjustment of the mask, you have to try a readjustment, and you can ask your DME for an evaluation if you can't do it properly. Maybe the mask is too tight, or too loose.

  • In some cases the dryness will cause irritation, burning and sneezing. These symptoms can be alleviated by the use of a humidifier.

    Some sleep specialists order a passover (cold water) humidifier with the initial CPAP order. If you do not have one of these speak with your sleep specialist.

    If you already have a humidifier and still experience these symptoms you may need a heated humidifier. This is a water pan that sits on a heating unit and is attached to CPAP just like the passover humidifier. Heating the air and the water will allow the air to carry more moisture as it travels to your nose (just like the summer air is more humid than winter air).

    Now, you told me that you don't use a humidifier. You should know that nose bleeds are usually helped by increasing the humidification...but you don't have any. A humidifier is definitely better than a moisturizer when the dry air is passing through your nasal passages all night.

  • If the other methods doesn't help, you probably need a new mask that fits you better.

Kimberley, I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.
I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

Comments for Sores in nasal passage ways with CPAP mask

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Apr 25, 2017
Inside my nose is raw still
by: Reginald D. Kinnaman

I have a cpap with heated humidifier and no matter what heat setting, I also get a raw nasal passage after 2 nights. This in turn makes my allergies worse. The only help I've found is using a paraffin wax warmed up and applied inside the nose. I've tried Vaseline on a cotton swab but not enough protection from the air flow. The rawness goes way up inside and when not using the cpap, I can use Vaseline and add a little triple antibiotic, but at night, this doesn't help.

Jul 23, 2017
Raw nasal passage with cpap
by: Carol W

Just as bad with humidifier. Have been using for months,had to go off for weeks. I have found I also get a rash on hands from vinyl gloves. Could this be allergy from breathing through vinyl? Just tried to use for past 3 nights, so raw, red inside nose I can't stand it. What kind of doctor could help me? My apena is pretty bad. At first it really helped.n

Aug 03, 2017
Sores Inside of Nostril
by: Sandy

Originally, I experienced a constant runny nose when first using C Pap 6 or 7 years ago and now have sores inside of my nose, despite having a heated humidifier. I found the only thing that helped was a prescription for NASONEX nasal spray. Last year my insurance company dropped NASONEX from its formulary, offering instead a generic spray that exceeded $200. and was not effective. I apply POLYSPORIN daily to the sores, and actually Get relief eliminating the drainage with DAYQUIL. I assume the nasal drip is the culprit.
My sleep doctor suggested ZYRTEC , but after trying that for over a month, saw no improvement.

Aug 04, 2017
Nasal Sores

No one has mentioned the water quality being used in humidifiers.
I was told to always use bottled DISTILLED WATER, not purified water or any other type of bottled or tap water. Don't know if this would cause nasal issues or not.
Would like to know what others are using ?
Also, my ENT Physician recommended a nasal emollient called
PONARIS , made by Jamol Laboratories, Inc. Their directions say to use 1-2 drops in each nostril however my doctor suggested applying a small amount with a cotton swab. This is NOT a prescription but you may have to ask pharmacist to order.

Dec 13, 2017
Sore on the sides of nose NEW
by: Anonymous

I've used by cpap machine now for about 3 weeks. I just noticed that I'm getting small sores on both sides of my nose at the tip. I have a full face mask and I don't believe anything is rubbing. Could this be a pressure issue?

Kim B

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