If you have ever had your ears pierced in multiple places, you may have noticed that there are different types of earring back, and which one is used depends on the location of the piercing. Many people who are new to piercings through the ear cartilage likely won’t have come across flat back earrings before as they tend to be reserved for the wider points of the ear, or areas that are more prone to swelling rather than being used for lobe piercings, where butterfly backs tend to be preferred. For some, once they have come across flat back earrings they then tend to prefer them over the more traditional butterfly back earrings that they may have been used to. Here we take a look at some of the reasons why flat backs may be preferred, especially by professional piercers.
There are two different types of flat back earring – push pin flat backs, and threaded flat backs. Both tend to be inserted through the back of the ear, and then secured at the front with either a push mechanism or screwing the front onto the threading of the post. Any decorative elements to the earring will usually be at the front of a flat back earring. The main difference between flat back earrings and butterfly backs is that the more commonly used butterfly backs are much easier to adjust to the thickness of the ear, whereas flat backs tend to be a set size. Whilst some people may find this annoying at first as the earring has more space to move around, there are multiple different sizes of post for flat back earrings, so if you feel that the one you or your piercer have selected is not the right length for you, discuss it with them and it can likely be changed. Bear in mind that most piercers will usually err on the side of caution and opt for a post length that is longer than what you appear to need, and this is to account for any swelling that may occur immediately after they have done the piercing. Swelling is extremely common after cartilage piercings, so it’s best practice to size up just in case.
The fundamental reason that most piercers choose to use a flat back earring immediately following piercing is two-fold – they’re more likely to avoid infection, and they also offer more comfort whilst your piercing heals. Whilst the majority of flat back earrings have the same length posts as the more commonly known butterfly backs, flat backs aren’t able to be tightened as easily or adjusted after the earring has been put in, so they can’t become too tight unless the piercing site swells extensively. Over-tightness can happen easily with butterfly back earrings, particularly in the first couple of weeks when you’re constantly touching them to keep up with cleaning etc. This excessive tightness can lead to discomfort and irritation of the piercing site and can trap bacteria close to the open hole, which can then easily result in infection. If this happens then your earring will usually have to be removed and allowed to fully close up and heal. Any piercing is effectively an open wound until it is completely healed, so it’s imperative that the area is kept clean and free of any form of irritation.
Another benefit to flat back earrings is that due to their overall shape, they’re much less likely to snag or get caught on things such as your hair, clothing, or sponges etc when showering. Again, snagging and pulling can cause irritation of the piercing site like with huggie hoop earrings and should be avoided wherever possible so that your piercing can heal effectively.