Dolly Parton on health condition that led her to get tattoos

Dolly Parton performs 'I Will Always Love You' in 1979

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Dolly Parton’s success spans six decades, but while the years have passed, the singer’s style has remained the same – voluminous blonde hair and plaid, lacy and denim outfits that echo her country roots. Over the years, fans have also picked up on the singer always wearing long sleeves, hinting she’s covering many colourful tattoos that allegedly decorate her arms.

In 2017 she confirmed to Vanity Fair the tattoos did exist, and the story behind them was due to her having keloid scar tissue.

She said: “I don’t really like to make a big to-do of [the tattoos] because people make such a big damn deal over every little thing.

“But most of the tattoos, when I first started, I was covering up some scars that I had, ‘cause I have a tendency to have keloid scar tissue, and I have a tendency where if I have any kind of scars anywhere then they kind of have a purple tinge that I can never get rid of.

“So mine are all pastels, what few that I have, and they’re meant to cover some scars. I’m not trying to make some big, bold statement.”

Keloid scars occur when a wound heals. The scar becomes thick, lumpy raised and larger than the original wound.

The NHS says they can be pink, red, skin-coloured or darker than the surrounding skin.

It explains: “They can develop after very minor skin damage, such as an acne spot or a piercing, and spread beyond the original area of skin damage.”

Anyone can get a keloid scar but they tend to be more common in people with dark skin.

They’re also more common on the upper chest, shoulders, head and neck, but can happen anywhere, and they’re usually painless.

There are a number of treatments available, but the health body says none have been shown to be more effective than others.

Treatments that may help flatten a keloid scar include steroid injections, applying steroid-impregnated tape for 12 hours a day and applying silicone gel sheeting for several months.

Dolly has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and has had 25 songs reach number one on the Billboard country music charts.

But behind the scenes, the star has struggled with her fair share of health problems.

In her 2018 book Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton, she wrote: “See, I was thirty-five when I first got sick.

“I went to the very bottom as far as my emotions and my health are concerned.

“I was getting away with murder. I wasn’t watching what I ate, I wasn’t conscious of nutrition, wasn’t taking care of myself. I was working hard, and underneath I was a pile of personal and emotional problems.

“All at once I fell apart. It was stomach problems and female problems—all over health problems actually.

“It was God’s way of telling me to get myself straight… I’m grateful it happened when I was still young enough to bounce back.”

Dolly was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis and by 1984 she underwent a partial hysterectomy to treat her symptoms.

The singer is appearing in Dolly Parton: The Queen of Country on Channel 5 at 4:45pm.

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