Can I safely use CPAP if I have a beard?

Just because you have a great looking beard doesn’t mean you can’t also have a great feeling sleep experience.   The great news you have been waiting for is yes, you absolutely can enjoy the benefits of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy while sporting a manly mane.   While sleep experts, also known as respiratory therapists, initially discouraged having a beard in conjunction with CPAP therapy, users predictably chose their beards over continued use of a CPAP mask and CPAP machine.  Instead of trying to persuade CPAP patients to abandon their beards, the industry has begun to incorporate such facial features into their mask design and allowing users the benefit of choice when it comes to their CPAP experience.



As Philips Respironics’ chief medical liaison Teofilo Lee-Chiong, Jr, MD best said, “Masks should be chosen to fit a specific face, rather than the other way around.”  As a result, many masks available on the CPAP Supplies website are compatible with your fierce beard.  Your best bet is to stay away from masks that rest on your upper lip, since the facial hair on your upper lip can create an uneven seal and air can slip out of your mask.  When air escapes, it lowers the pressure prescribed by your doctor, and the CPAP machine doesn’t effectively treat your obstructive sleep apnea symptoms nearly as well as it normally would.

Which one do I use?

CPAP mask designers recommend that patients with a beard use a full face CPAP mask to make sure the facial hair doesn’t disrupt the air flow in the CPAP therapy.  Fisher & Paykel’s FlexiFit line provides an ideal fit for bearded CPAP users, since it doesn’t lie on the lip.  Another potential option is to use the RemZzzs’ sleep pads that act as a natural sealant around the mask, but are created to reduce irritation and inflammation where the mask lining meets the face.  The facial hair will remain flat below the padding, which ensures that the seal remains intact.

If you do decide that clean shaven is your new look, shave nightly before CPAP therapy to make sure that the mask lining lies as close as possible to the skin, guaranteeing the seal  remains intact and you accomplish the best possible therapy.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the above outline is not an exhaustive resource regarding facial hair and CPAP therapy, but hopefully you at least have a better understanding of how to achieve higher quality results from your CPAP mask.  It is best to speak with your doctor to determine what is best for your individual needs, and you might need to test out a couple different CPAP masks before determining the best mask for your facial structure.