Earbuds and in-ear headphones have made listening to music more portable than ever; you no longer have to worry about bulky on-ear phones that have those foam pads that tear easily. However, earbuds (the ones that just rest in your outer ear, next to the canal) and in-ear headphones (the rubber-tipped ones that fit inside the canal and that are often thought of as earbuds) can create some issues for users, namely regarding comfort. It's possible to make the discomfort go away, though, if you know how to place the phones and care for them.


One of the main problems people have with these small headphones is that they can irritate your skin. Earbuds that rest on your outer ear can rub against the skin in the ear, and the cord can irritate the section of the outer ear that it (the cord) hangs over. One possible solution is to look for smaller earbuds; if the cord is a problem, looking for a more flexible cord will help.

Another tactic is to take small pieces of moleskin, that felt-like surface you put on your heels to prevent blisters. Cut tiny pieces to fit the parts of the earbuds that are hitting your skin so that you have the soft moleskin as a barrier.

For in-ear headphones, you have two possible solutions. One is to look for smaller rubber tips; audio stores and even dollar stores occasionally have these in sets. Another is to review your insertion technique. Gently pull the top of your outer ear up and back to straighten the ear canal a bit; this will help open up the end of the canal. Put the phone in gently; don't push it in very hard. Let go of the top of your ear.

Both earbuds and in-ear phones can interfere with earrings (the wires can tangle with the earrings). Remove ring and dangling earrings before putting in the phones. You may want to remove stud earrings as well.


The balance between your left and right ears can make listening to music mentally uncomfortable. If you notice the sound balance starting to fail, it might not be your music player. Check the earbuds and in-ear tips for earwax. Clean it out with an alcohol wipe, which you can get at drugstores in the first-aid section.

Also look for shorter cords in both styles to prevent the buds or tips from being yanked out unexpectedly. There are more and more brands and styles of headphones coming out each year, so finding a pair that work for you shouldn't take long.

For more information, contact companies like Multi Sport Audio.