Celebrities & Pop Culture

No More Rumors—This Is The Real Story Behind Singer Seal’s Facial Scars

No, they're not "tribal scars."

We’re all familiar with English singer and songwriter Seal’s buttery smooth vocals from his hit songs like “Kiss From a Rose,” “Killer” and “Future Love Paradise.” Between selling over 20 million albums worldwide, his fame as TV judge on shows such as “American Idol” and “The Voice Australia,” and his previous marriage to model Heidi Klum, Seal has been in the public eye since the early 1990s.

Magic Of Christmas - Show
Getty Images | Jeff Spicer

Rumors About Scars Have Persisted

His unique facial scars have also been in the public eye for decades — and they’ve been the source of plenty of rumors. Some have speculated that they’re tribal ritual scars or that they resulted from a horrific accident, both of which are incorrect.

Here’s the real story: The facial scarring is a result of a skin condition known as discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE).

Seal photo
Getty Images | Handout

What Is Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

DLE is a form of lupus and a chronic skin condition characterized by sores, inflammation and scarring. Often the scarring is found on the face, ears and scalp. In Seal’s case, it also resulted in permanent hair loss.

The 55-year-old father of four contracted DLE when he was only 23, and though his disease has been in remission for years, the scarring is permanent. Actually, the scars aren’t from the disease itself, but instead the treatment of it, which can include coritsone (steroid) ointments or injections.

“These lesions develop as a red, inflamed patch with a scaling and crusty appearance. The center areas may appear lighter in color with a rim darker than the normal skin,” according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD). This condition can also lead to internal organ damage, which can lead other illnesses.

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the exact cause of DLE is unknown, “but it is thought to be autoimmune with the body’s immune system incorrectly attacking normal skin.”

The National Resource Center On Lupus reports that up to 10 percent of people with DLE develop lupus in other areas of the body.

seal photo
Getty Images | Jeff Spicer

RELATED: Fibromyalgia Is More Common Than You Think—here’s What You Should Know

Scars Led To Depression For Star

Seal, whose real name is Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel, has opened up in interviews about living with the aftermath of DLE, saying it has made him a stronger person, despite being a source of depression when he was young.

However, the singer also has likely used his life struggles, including a difficult childhood and his health, as inspiration in his music career. He also has said that he has grown to love the scars.

seal photo
Getty Images | John Phillips

“I believe that in all forms of art there has to have been some initial adversity: that is what makes art, as far as I’m concerned,” Seal told The New York Times back in 1996. “And it’s not something you outlive: once you experience it, it’s always with you. It forms part of your makeup; probably it’s the reason for your makeup.”

Currently, there’s no cure for lupus, so if you’re feeling symptoms such as fever, hair loss, swollen joints, rash or problems with your kidneys or thyroid, be sure to check in with your doctor.

seal photo
Getty Images | Stuart C. Wilson

Today, about 5 million people, including celebrities Nick Cannon, Toni Braxton and Selena Gomez, live with lupus.

In September, Gomez revealed on Instagram that she had undergone a kidney transplant. The pop star needed the transplant due to complications from lupus, the chronic autoimmune disease from which she suffers. So her best friend, actress Francia Raisa, donated one of her kidneys.