Have you ever experienced pain and redness from wearing earrings? It might be a symptom of an ear infection, an allergy to metal like nickel or the earring is too tight, cutting circulation to the ear lobe.

Most earrings, other than dangles, are a two-part system: the post and the back. While we like to fault the earring for our red ears, typically it is the back to blame when our earrings are uncomfortable. In this article, we’ll show you the types of earring backs and how to relieve any unpleasant symptoms.

Types of Earring Backs

Screw Backs – These are earring backs that screw on rather than push onto the post. The earring post has threads, so the backing must be rotated like a nut onto a bolt.

Pros: A secure option of fastening your earrings. Like any nut and bolt, you must make sure the screw is always tight.

Cons: Screw backs provide a false sense of security, thinking that they can never loosen or fall off. They can easily be overtightened, causing a loss of blood flow. Because the posts require threads, they are thicker and may be uncomfortable for some people.

The threads on the post can wear out over time, and the backs will not hold. Also, you need steady hands to put them on and to take off.

La Pousette Backs - The most intricate type of earring back is La Pousette. It is a disc with two tabs. You pinch the tabs to open the hole in the center and slip it onto the post. Releasing the tabs causes spring tension to grip the post and hold the earring in place.

Pros: These earring backs offer the security of screw backs due to a safety notch on the post, and the convenience of friction-type backs.

Cons: These earring backs can be the most expensive type and a bit difficult if you have big fingers.

Friction Backs - Also known as push backs or butterfly backs, these are the most common type. Friction backs use tension to grip the earring post. They have two curled edges that you pinch together to insert over the post. The post usually has a safety notch at the end to catch the backing should it slip down.

When purchasing, look for thicker, heavier metal. They are more secure and will last much longer than lighter types.

Pros: Easy to use. You slide the earring back onto the earring post until it comfortably touches your earlobe.

Cons: As with any spring, they eventually lose their tension and can fall off.

Can Earring Backs Cause Ear Problems?

The space between the earring back and your ear can harbor yeast and bacteria. Even if you wash behind your ears, they will continue to grow yucky, smelly stuff behind your ears. As a daily routine, you should remove your earring backs and sanitize both the earrings and your ears to prevent infection.

Also, by jamming on the backs too tight, you can cause pain in your earlobes due to poor circulation. It helps to leave an “air gap” to ensure comfort and avoid infection. That’s why you need a quality earring back that will hold the post in place without needing to press it tightly against your ear.

Another problem can be the metal. Many earring backs contain nickel. Nickel is known to cause an allergic reaction in people with sensitive skin. A nickel allergy can occur from the first time you wear an earring during childhood, or after many years of wearing them. If you have an allergy to nickel, you’ll need to purchase nickel-free alternatives.

What Earring Back is Best for You?

At Blomdahl USA, we’ve crafted three types of earring backs that are high-quality and nickel-free: 

1. Titanium

2. Medical Grade Plastic

3. Titanium with Large Plastic Discs

Titanium is a durable metal that holds its spring tension for years. They fit any of our titanium earrings and many other earring styles, as well.                             

Medical Grade plastic is lightweight, comfortable, and easy to clean. These medical plastic earring backs fit our entire line of medical plastic earrings. They leave a slight gap between the ear and the back to allow for proper air circulation.         

The third type of erring back that we offer is for larger earrings. The titanium center holds the post firmly while the plastic disc increases the support around the post allowing for a more comfortable fit for large, heavy earrings.

Earring holes and the back of your ear require proper hygiene and earrings that fit properly. Always ensure you choose quality backs that allow for adequate air circulation, grip the earring firmly, and are nickel-free.