Let me tell you my story on a sleep apnea mask and my beard!
On September 7, 2011 I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. The Doctor explained to me that treatment would be wearing a mask over my nose, or nose and mouth in order to create air pressure to keep my air passages open during sleep. This was a bother to me not only from the aspect of sleeping with something stuck to my face every night but also I knew from being a skin diver and snorkeler that I would have trouble sealing a mask on my face.
I have always had a beard and knew I would have trouble keeping a good air-tight seal. During the second stage of treatment, you are fitted with the mask and there was an attempt to use a nasal pillow to bypass the facial hair issue, which was a failure. I could not use it because I couldn’t tolerate the device. I did not like the feeling of the device up my nose, nor was able to keep air from escaping from my mouth when the pressure increased to the proper level.
When I fell asleep and relaxed, air would start leaking out of my mouth, and I would wake up with a dry throat and nose that was so bad that it would take a few minutes, which felt like an eternity, to rehydrate.
I had to change to a full face mask to get the mouth issue under control. This felt a lot better to me. Once the machine’s pressure reached maximum treatment pressure, (approximately 30 minutes later) it started leaking around my beard. I started tightening up the straps on the mask, and tried again, and eventually achieved our goal of a good seal. I was a happy camper!
Don’t Put Up With Discomfort
I felt that I would get used to the feeling of having this device on my face all night, and not have to shave off my beard of thirty-three years! All I had to do is put up with the discomfort of wearing this device too tight at night. I didn’t like the fact that I would wake up with a reddened face with the outline of a mask on my nose and cheeks every morning, which would take a couple of hours to go away. I had to wear the mask so tight that it started leaving sores on my nose and face. I also was developing neck pain at the base of my head from the tight adjustment of the mask.
I asked the medical assistant about using Vaseline on my beard to seal it like I had done with my diving mask. I was told that it was not a good idea because petroleum products can destroy the latex mask in a short period of time, and I would be purchasing new masks quite often. Read about lipoid pneumonia. This was a relief in a way because I cannot tolerate greasy Vaseline or oily substances on my face. Not to mention it getting all over the pillow and bed sheets.
The medical assistant suggested shaving my beard! She told me that’s what most men have to do, and asked me what was more important, my health or beard. I didn’t want to reveal my aging face and scar on my jaw, not to mention changing my identity to everyone I knew.
Allowing A Better Airtight Seal
I set out to develop a usable product that would be non greasy, clean to use, and not harm my mask. after a lot of trial and error I came up with my sealing wax that was very comfortable to use and allowed me to loosen my mask to get rid of my neck pain and facial sores. I monitored my CPAP machines apnea–hypopnea index gauge and found that I routinely had lower numbers after using my sealing wax and by keeping my beard soft from using my special shampoo and conditioner to soften the hair to allow a better airtight seal.
Before I started using the sealing wax I also developed thinning or bald spots in my beard where the face mask would rub on my chin while sleeping. Once I started using the wax it worked as a lubricant keeping my facial hair from braking off or being pulled out from the friction of the latex against my chin. After using my CPAP Sealing System for a couple of years It has improved my quality of life so much. I felt It was my obligation to share this with everyone that could use it. I hope that this product will improve the health, comfort and lives of the many men with Apnea which have beards or mustaches or wish to grow one.