Nasal Mask vs Nasal ‘Pillows’

Nasal Masks are the most common type of mask in use, followed closely by Full-Face Masks. Nasal Pillows are less commonly used for a couple of reasons. They are a smaller, lighter option and look like a flared oxygen cannula which goes approx. 5mm into the nostrils. The obvious advantage is the size and weight, as nasal pillows are considerable smaller than other masks. The only disadvantage is the potential to cause nasal irritation, as the air from the machine is pushed directly into the nasal passages which can cause a rhinitis or irritation. We would not recommend nasal pillows be used if the CPAP operating pressure is above mid-range (above 10-12cmH2O).

Full-face masks account for approx. 40% of users, so they are very commonly needed. The designs have vastly improved in recent years, with smaller ‘hybrid’ masks now available which do not cover the nose but sit under it, allowing the user to mouth-breathe.