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 a pharmacist to order.

Dec 13, 2017
Sore on the sides of nose
by: Kim B

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

Mar 20, 2018
Red scaly sores inside nose
by: Roxanna

Yes I have really sore red nose even though I have a heated humidifier. I used antibiotic cream every night and during day but it’s not clearing up Wish I had an answer. My dr just says keep using antibiotic cream

Apr 19, 2018
Sores in the nostrils
by: Neil

I get sores in the nostrils with my apap machine and have been using a mary kay moisturizer every night before bed, I just coat the inside of the nostrils very little, does the trick

Apr 28, 2018
Sores in nose
by: Anonymous

I'm having the same problem. Been using CPAP AirSense10 with ResMed P10 medium nasal pillows with up to 18 pressure and no heat or humidity for over 2 years.

A few months ago the irritation started deep in one nostril as sharp pain at night with excessive sneezing and runny nose during the day (nostril trying to heal itself, I suppose). Vaseline coated inside my nostril was the only relief I got during CPAP use. Gradually the other nostril was effected and eventually they both started bleeding--even with the well-coated Vaseline.

I took breaks from the machine a couple times until the sores were completely healed and then tried again. The same problem came on even faster (already sensitive now, I suppose).

Now I'm trying a P20 Nasal Mask and, although my nasal passages are relieved, I'm not able to get a good seal and not willing to put up with the horrid marks, breakouts, swollen eyes from the leaks and pressure, and all-over soreness that the nasal mask is currently causing.

I'm tempted to go back to the nasal pillows with an extremely low heat and humidity but I'm afraid of the possibility of chest congestion like I've learned from experience that causes me.

Any experienced person reading this with any suggestions, please email me at bear in mind that I have successfully used CPAP for over 2 years so the problem is most likely not the basic new user issues like placement, size, sleep position, etc.

One thing I suspect is that the nasal pillows aim the forceful air directly at the spots inside my nostrils that became sore . . .

I'm interested to know if anyone has found a way to control the direction of the airflow. Thanks

Jul 10, 2018
Dry Nasal Passage
by: Anonymous

Responding to April 28, 2018 question. I am a CPAP user for approx 10 years. About 4 yrs ago I started having same the problem as you and I would take a 2 week break whenever my left nasal passage would become aggravated.

I began using Vasaline or antibiotic ointment on a q-tip but that did not cure the problem caused by the machine, it only helped heal the nasal passage.

I switched from a nasal pillow to a ResMed Swift FX Nano nasal mask and started using NeilMed NasoGel about a 1/2 hour before hitting the sack.

Because only my left nasal passage becomes raw, I spray the left side with 7 or 8 squirts and the right side with 2. Since I spray a large amount in my nose, I roll some toilet tissue and stuff it into the bottom side of each nostril. This prevents the gel from dripping out and keeps it where it belongs.

After about 20 minutes the tissue is removed. I can honestly say I am having fewer attacks of dryness, constant runny nose and sneezing. Hope this information helps.

Aug 05, 2018
by: Renegade

I use a nasal pillow with humidity and have been for about a year. I just got my first sore inside my left nasal passage. IT HURTS! I have been putting Bacitracin on it using a qtip before going to bed at night for 2 nights now and it hasn't seemed to help yet. I am also type 2 diabetic so maybe I just need longer to heal.

Sep 08, 2018
Nasal pillows causing sore nostril
by: Anonymous

I've been using the P10 nasal pillows for a year and a half. In the past few months, my skin around my left nostril has been raw and dry. It's flaky as well. Last night, I used a tissue and I must have rubbed too hard and it started bleeding
I have been using Aquaphor which has been healing it pretty quickly but I need this to stop. Why has this started happening after all this time? Should I try different mask?

Sep 20, 2018
No answers??
by: CJ

I was hoping for someone to have a treatment :(. I have been using my CPAP for less than a year now and I use a ResMed full face mask also. I got 2 jugs of distilled water and I’ve only gotten to my second one now. My machine does also have a humidifier, I think it’s a heated one?

It’s usually set at a 6 (up to 10). I started noticing a sore in my left nostril after testing out the nasel pillows but I didn’t use them very long because they were uncomfortable. So I went back to full face.

I stopped using my machine for about a month or two and just started using it again and the nose sore came back. I’ve tried vasline and hydrocortisone cream also. Maybe the air is just irritating the inside?

Nov 03, 2020
by: Anonymous

I have been using my cpap with humidifier for over 5 years now and have tried many different mask. I am currently using the full face mask because my skin would get so irritated by the pillow and small nose mask. I have been getting sores inside my nostril every since i have been using the cpap no matter what mask i use. They are very painful and sometimes i cannot even touch the outside of my nose without it causing internal pain. The only relief i get is after i successfully rupture (pop) the sore which always has a white head on it. I have tried everything under the sun to lubricate my nostrils while using the cpap but nothing stops the sores unless i stop using my mask for a few weeks. I wish someone could come up with answers for these sores. My nostrils have sores most of the time and it is very irritating.

Dec 03, 2020
by: Anonymous


Aug 02, 2021
The hose
by: Anonymous

The problem might be the replacement hose.
I’ve been using the Philips dream machine for about a year or so, the first 6 months no problem the second 6 months were plagued by sores inside my nostrils. I tried different mask, nothing works, I even tried the machine without water and that helped, while reading this post I realized the hose was changed from a heated one to a regular non heated one, we need to try and obtain the original hose for the machine and that hopefully might solve our little problem. Peace.

Mar 07, 2022
Sore in nose NEW
by: Anonymous

Hello. I too have been getting sores in my nose since I started my CPap machine. I have the heated humidifier CPap.

Mar 08, 2022
Me 2
by: Renegade

I have been getting sores in my nostrils from CPAP also. Nothing I have done or suggestions from doctors have helped at all. They give me new mask and hoses every 3 months and between those times I also clean mask, hoses and CPAP water tank with white vinegar and rinse well with hot water. The only way to get rid of the sores is to stop using the CPAP for quite a few days.

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