Symptoms and Signs of Mask Squeeze

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 10/12/2021

Doctor's Notes on Mask Squeeze

Mask squeeze (also called face squeeze) is a type of barotrauma that occurs when scuba diving as a result of failing to equalize the pressure inside the diving mask. Pressure is normally equalized in the mask by exhaling through the nose. As a diver descends under water, the external pressures on the body increase. The air in the diving mask has more pressure put on it, and it becomes painfully pressed against the face unless the pressure is equalized. 

Symptoms of mask squeeze include

  • facial bruising and redness,
  • bruising around the eyes,
  • feeling of facial pressure or pain as the mask presses into the face,
  • nosebleed,
  • eye or face redness,
  • blood spots in the whites of the eyes,
  • swelling, and
  • rarely, changes in vision.

If vision changes occur, see a doctor immediately.

What Is the Treatment for Mask Squeeze?

Mask squeeze generally only causes minor or mild symptoms. Usually, this injury does not require any specific treatment and is self-limited. 

Swelling on the forehead, cheeks, or bridge of the nose can be treated with cool compresses or ice to the area several times a day for 48 hours. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) may be taken for discomfort.

Seek medical care or see an eye care specialist (ophthalmologist) immediately for eye related symptoms of mask squeeze injury such as blurry vision, eye pain, eye redness, or loss of vision (even just a partial loss of the vision field).

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.