The real reason Dolly Parton always wears long sleeves

If you're a fan of Dolly Parton, you've probably noticed that the county music legend always wears long sleeves. And though she always looks glamorous in every single long sleeve dress, gown, and top she wears, we can't help wonder why she's covering up her shoulders and arms. According to Jezebel, the "Two Doors Down" singer wears long sleeves (and sometimes even gloves) to hide all her secret tattoos

In 2013, Jennifer Saunders of Absolutely Fabulous fame publicly confirmed on Australian TV show Sunday Night that Parton is covered in tattoos. Saunders recalls the time the superstar flashed her ink in a restaurant, describing them as "the most beautiful angels and beautiful butterflies and baskets of flowers in pastel-colored tattoos." Parton made Saunders promise to not tell a soul — however, Saunders went on to share the story on TV as well as in her autobiography, Bonkers: My Life in Laughs.

Dolly Parton has multiple tattoos

Earlier this year during an interview with Good Morning America, Parton confirmed that she is partial to a butterfly or flower tattoo. Butterflies are a reoccurring motif in Parton's life, mentioned in songs ("Love Is Like a Butterfly" and "Butterflies") and appearing on the logo for Dollywood, Parton's Tennessee theme park. Explaining their very special meaning, she told ABC News, "They tell stories about me getting lost in the woods, and getting in trouble chasing butterflies."

According to Inked, Dolly Parton has also previously admitted to Jay Leno that she has an angel tattoo somewhere on her body and told Larry King that she doesn't have full tattoo sleeves or anywhere near as many tattoos as people think. "I splattered them here and there, but I wouldn't be a biker chick or anything!" she said. If you take a close look at what Parton wears on the red carpet and during her shows, it's often her upper arms that she hides most, sometimes leaving her wrists bare.

Does Dolly Parton wear long sleeves to hide her tattoos?

Though the singer has never confirmed that the reason she wears long sleeves is to cover her tattoos, she has confirmed that she originally got tattoos to cover up her scars. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Parton admitted, "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." 

She continued, "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." We can only speculate that wearing long sleeves is simply another way that Parton can hide her keloid scars while keeping her tattoos personal and private, revealing them only to who she chooses, rather than the entire world.

What are keloid scars?

According to Ioannis Goutos, consultant Plastic Surgeon at the British Skin Institute, "A keloid is a type of bulky scar that develops in the skin as a result of injury, infection or inflammation and spreads beyond the borders of the original field of skin damage. It is essentially an area of excessive collagen deposition." Goutos describes them as "shiny, rubbery skin lumps" that can be very unpredictable as they can take years to develop, and stop and start growing at different stages of life for no reason known to medical professionals. As stated on the UK's National Health System website, they are most common on the upper chest, shoulders, head, and neck.

How do you treat keloid scars?

In recent years, Dolly Parton has been very open about the fact that she has keloid scars, which makes us wonder whether or not they are treatable. While there is no need to have them removed as they are completely harmless, like most scars, they will stay on your body for life. 

If you want them treated for cosmetic reasons, Goutos recommends you see a skin specialist or dermatologist as there is no single treatment that can remove them completely, and the process can be quite complicated. The American Academy of Dermatology lists corticosteroids injections, surgical removal, compression, cryotherapy, radiation, laser, and more treatments to tackle the scar. However, it is important to understand that most people usually need to undergo multiple different treatments, and even if successful, the keloid scars can still return.