The 2 most common types of generic eartip are the Mushroom shaped eartip and the Flanged style eartip. The tapered design of the flanged can be a little less forgiving on ears.
These bung style earpieces are inexpensive and they effective in high noise environments. However their drawbacks are that they can be uncomfortable and that they block the flow of air to the ear canal. As a result the ear canal can warm up and this can be the cause of irritation.
To avoid an itchy ear the most important piece of advice is to keep your ears clean before using an earpiece. Good hygiene should by common sense reduce the possibility of irritation and will also prevent wax building up in the eartip. If wax occludes the hole in your eartip sound will not pass out of it (see future blog Common Reasons Why Your Earpiece Doesn't Work).
Semi Custom Eartips
An alternative to a bung is the Skeleton ear insert.
These are flexible inserts that directly replace your eartip. The Skeleton eartips are more comfortable to wear and are held in place by the little ridge in your ear. There are various models the best in my opinion being made from medical grade silicon.
The Skeleton insert does not block the ear allowing fresh air to pass by into the ear canal alleviating itching. As such they offer no isolation against external sound. They are therefore unsuitable for use in high noise environments.
Skeleton eartips are available to fit the Left or Right ear in 3 sizes Small, Medium and Large.
Custom Molded Eartips
The most comfortable earpiece is a Custom Molded Earpiece made from an impression taken from the shape of your ear. (TV presenters may require both a left and a right side earpiece depending on the camera angle). For many years the custom process was expensive and time consuming. Fortunately times have changed and a more affordable inexpensive fixed price Mainland UK service is now available called Proguard.
Custom molded earpieces are produced from hard clear acrylic plastic or softer squidgy substances into which various sound drivers can be fitted.
Custom earpiece may have a small air breathing hole or even a valve fitted to allow air to circulate.