Choosing the Right CPAP Mask: Nasal Pillow vs. Nasal vs. Full Face Masks

August 09, 2023


3 minutes read

Nasal Pillow vs. Nasal vs. Full Face Masks
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is a common treatment for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. CPAP masks are a crucial component of therapy, as they deliver pressurized air to keep the airway open and ensure proper breathing throughout the night. There are three main types of CPAP masks: Nasal Pillow, Nasal, and Full Face masks. Let's compare these masks based on their design, features, and benefits:

Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask

Design: Nasal pillow masks are the smallest and lightest among the three types. They consist of soft cushions that seal around the nostrils, delivering the air directly into the nasal passages.
Features and Benefits:
  • Minimal Contact: Nasal pillow masks have minimal contact with the face, making them ideal for users who feel claustrophobic or experience skin irritation with larger masks.
  • High Comfort: Users often find nasal pillow masks more comfortable due to their lightweight and minimal design.
  • Excellent for Side Sleepers: The design of these masks makes them suitable for individuals who prefer sleeping on their side.
  • Reduced Mask Marks: Nasal pillows create fewer facial marks and reduce the risk of pressure sores.
  • Not Suitable for Mouth Breathers: Nasal pillow masks are designed for individuals who breathe through their noses. Mouth breathers may experience air leakage and reduced effectiveness.

Nasal CPAP Mask

Design: Nasal masks cover the nose and deliver pressurized air into both nostrils.
Features and Benefits:
  • Adequate Sealing: Nasal masks provide a secure seal and are suitable for a wide range of facial shapes and sizes.
  • Versatility: They are suitable for individuals who breathe through their nose or both nose and mouth.
  • Humidification: Some nasal masks come with integrated humidifiers, which help prevent dryness and irritation in the nasal passages.
  • Slightly Larger: Nasal masks cover a larger area of the face compared to nasal pillow masks, which may cause more noticeable mask marks.


Full Face CPAP Mask

Design: Full face masks cover the nose and mouth, delivering pressurized air to both areas.
Features and Benefits:
  • Ideal for Mouth Breathers: Full face masks are suitable for individuals who breathe through their mouths or have nasal congestion.
  • Preventing Air Leaks: They are effective at preventing air leaks as they cover both the nose and mouth.
  • Integrated Humidification: Like nasal masks, some full face masks also come with integrated humidifiers.
  • Larger Size: Full face masks cover a larger portion of the face, which may feel more cumbersome for some users.
  • Potential Claustrophobia: Users who are sensitive to the feeling of a mask covering the entire face may experience some claustrophobia.


In conclusion, the choice of CPAP mask depends on individual preferences, breathing patterns, and comfort levels. Nasal pillow masks are suitable for those who want a lightweight and minimal design, while nasal masks offer versatility for nose and mouth breathers. Full face masks are ideal for mouth breathers or those who require more extensive coverage. It's essential to work with a healthcare provider or CPAP equipment supplier to find the mask that best suits your needs for effective and comfortable sleep apnea therapy.