A Pierced Tongue-in-Cheek Look at Secretions

I am here to candidly discuss an oft neglected subject in piercingdom. Even though the topic is usually avoided, I for one, was curious and therefore did some investigating. This particular phenomenon, found offensive to some, embarrassing to most, but fascinating to me is the occurrence of odiferous piercing secretions which we, at Alchemistress, affectionately call"Mung". As bodily secretions go, Mung is by far more pleasant than the frightful Smegma, or the noxious Phlegm (see also Gleet) but a bit more problematic than a sloppy Goober or some innocuous Gunk. The fact that all these terms contain the letter "G" (as does Gross) is food for thought indeed. At any rate, I am rather fond of Mung, but then I bury my nose in the crack of any book, huff on kerosene lamps and hang out in cellars a lot.

So what exactly is this infamous Mung, you might ask? Well, it is an innocent by-product of exudation which is the slow discharge of fluid, cells or serums from cells or blood vessels through small pores or breaks in the membranes. This natural process can occur long after a piercing is healed if the site becomes inflamed or irritated. Mung is created from the accumulation and occlusion of these substances and develops a distinctive smell when it remains trapped, for example, by tight jewelry, flaps of skin or heavy clothing where bacteria can flourish. In other words, if you don't clean it and aerate it, it will stink! To what extent can be dependent on such things as your own particular body, the type and placement of your piercing and/or what kind of jewelry you wear.

Generally, the more you stretch a piercing, the more often you will experience those noticeable "Mung Moments", especially if you are wearing jewelry that is held in close contact to the expanded skin. Since earlobes are the most frequently stretched piercing in the U.S., the preponderance of Mungi produced here yearly is found on the ears, hence Earmung - as opposed to Navelmung or Nipplemung - is the most pertinent to this discussion. ( Although Septummung can be particularly fragrant to the wearer, for obvious reasons, of course. ) I like to move my septum jewelry a tiny bit to enjoy the aroma, but I suppose that could be just me. Unlike Septummung, which you will most often be aware of yourself, Earmung can be frustratingly capricious. Right when you think it's safely confined between the flanges of your shiny earlets, a nod of the head, a toss of hair or just chewing gum can, before you know it, send Mungus fumes wafting about your personal space. That quick hug at the reunion, peck on the cheek at graduation or even a whispered comment in the theater will have you wondering, "When was the last time I washed my ears?

What can one do besides constantly brandishing a handiwipe and risk smelling like a neurotic clean freak? Well, adequate care and maintenance is the trick. Alchemistress Body Arts follows an all natural approach to aftercare so I can recommend some useful items for your apothecary. An herbal soap with antiseptic properties like tea tree, lemon or neem can be used for cleansing. Then you should apply essential oils to inhibit bacterial growth. I favor a neem/lavender concoction, myself, but you guys might prefer an essence of pine or lemon. On days when the mungidity is high, I dose the site with a hefty shot of tea tree oil and then replace my washed and essential oil soaked jewelry. Do purchase your natural health care goods from a reputable store or company such as Liberty Natural or shop for pure, non-adulterated products at your local food coop.

For those of you out there with critical Mung issues, there are some simple behavioral modifications that you can adopt to alleviate your situation. Wear your hair loose, stand downwind during conversations, avoid unnecessary embraces and never, I repeat, never play with your ears in public! Seriously though, you can choose jewelry that is less Mung friendly such as surgical steel rings which allow more movement and , therefore, more oxygen to the area. Acrylic jewelry harbors bacteria and promotes Mung formation as do things with crevices and edges like o-rings and screw-on flesh tunnels. Someone should invent antimungal material for plugs or manufacture large gauge jewelry perforated with air holes. Or how about a Mung deodorizer?

All in all, I think Mung is an intriguing subject worthy of further scrutiny. For, when reflecting on my own personal "Mung Moments", I often find them to be endearingly special. Like the Mung produced after my flesh tunnels served as finger pulls during......hmmm, what a fond recollection.......Well, anyway, there are also new mungerities to discover in the future. For instance, have you ever noticed that more Mung forms during the full and/or new moon? Again, it's probably just me, but you folks could do me a favor and keep track for a couple of months and send in a report. I do hope you all will embrace your mungessence to better learn your own mungal phases and nuances. Timing is everything in life — which reminds me — I've got to go clean my ears!!

Dana also fancies herself to be the Mung MavenMung Maven of this millennium. Email her with your memorable mung moments and other mungabilia...

With thanks to PAIN magazine, upon whose pages this article first appeared. Published May 2005.
Copyright © 2004 by D. Wakefield