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Linea Nigra – What It Is, Why It Happens And How Long It Lasts

Linea Nigra – What It Is, Why It Happens And How Long It Lasts

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Sometimes, women may discover a very distinct, vertical dark line forming on their abdomen called a linea nigra, or pregnancy line when it appears in pregnant women.

​A linea nigra is a dark brown line that most often stretches from your bellybutton to your pubic area that most commonly appears in pregnant women but isn’t exclusive to them.

This thin line is normally present in the abdomen and is known as a linea alba. It only really becomes visible when it darkens and is then known as the linea nigra.

Anyone can have this black line showing on their abdomen because everyone has a linea alba.

There are, however, certain factors that make it more apparent during pregnancy than any other period.

Researchers aren’t really sure about the reasons for this, but there are some theories.

Most of them are tied to hormonal changes and hyperpigmentation of the skin due to the high concentrations of melanin.

Making it go away usually requires either waiting or using a cosmetic solution. But, if it bothers you, as long as you keep it covered, no one will notice it.

What Makes The Linea Nigra Appear?

1. Hormones

graphic of hormone changes in pregnant woman

The appearance of linea nigra in pregnant women is usually attributed to the erratic hormonal changes they go through during pregnancy.

When their estrogen and progesterone levels go wild, it can interfere with many different bodily functions including melanin production, which, in turn, causes this dark vertical line to form on their abdomen.

Melanin is a melanocyte stimulating hormone, one that’s responsible for protecting you against excessive sun exposure and harmful UV rays in general.

It’s what gives pigment to our skin, except, in this case, it causes hyperpigmentation on the white line known as linea alba, giving it the dark discoloration.

It’s a condition similar to melasma.

Neither of these two conditions are typically permanent, at least not in pregnant women, and should disappear when your hormone levels start returning back to normal.

2. Specific medication and birth control pills

pregnant woman holding pills and glass of water

Some specific hormone controlling meds may have linea nigra listed as one of their side effects, as do some birth control pills.

The reason for this is because the aim of the meds is to either suppress or raise the levels of specific hormones.

This ends up creating a hormonal imbalance that causes the darker skin on your abdominal area to appear.

3. Causes unrelated to pregnancy

worried pregnant woman sitting on the couch

The two above mentioned causes aren’t the only ways one can get a linea nigra, there are a few other reasons for this skin change to appear in non-pregnant people too.

• Stress

Stress is a known troublemaker in all aspects, be it physical or mental, and hormones are always a common victim.

Therefore, if you’re going through a rough period in your life, stress may be the main contributing factor to that dark line forming on your abdomen and it should go away once you manage to eliminate the stress.

• Sun exposure

It’s not uncommon for the dark line to appear when trying to get a tan due to hyperpigmentation.

It’s a condition where some parts of your body darken faster than others and the white line (linea alba) is quite prone to that.

• Hormonal issues

This one specifically refers to problems with either the adrenal gland or a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (or PCOS for short).

While some other hormonal issues might contribute to the appearance of the linea nigra, these two are the main culprits and the line may be a bit more permanent should this be the case.

When Does Linea Nigra Appear?

It usually starts appearing around the pregnant mom’s second trimester and can stay all throughout the third trimester up until the due date.

Although, sometimes it can even occur in the later stages of her first trimester.

When Does Linea Nigra Go Away?

It ought to fade shortly after delivery but if it doesn’t, don’t let it upset you!

It is in no way dangerous and it only slightly alters the physical appearance of your abdomen – look at it as a way of remembering the time you spent carrying your precious angel.

However, if it really bothers you, you can ask your doctor or dermatologist about possible ways of hiding it.

Are There Any Side-Effects To It?

pregnant woman with linea nigra on the belly

Not really. In fact, some old wives tales say that you can use it to help determine the gender of your baby during pregnancy.

They say that if your pregnancy line goes from your pubic bone to your bellybutton that you’ll be having a girl.

However, if it extends past the umbilicus and goes all the way up to your ribs, it’s certain to be a boy.

Whether or not this is an accurate method of prediction is completely debatable though, and how much you want to believe in it is up to you.

Can The Linea Nigra Be Treated?

It most certainly can be treated, if it doesn’t disappear by itself. However, it cannot be fully removed as it’s always present in its other form and hyperpigmentation isn’t always reversible.

Not unless you’re looking to cause some serious damage to your skin and yourself.

But, the following treatment options should offer some sort of solution:

1. Using make-up to cover it

beautiful pregnant woman holding a powder and a brush

The best go-to solution is to use cosmetic products to help mask the area for the time being.

That said, you should avoid any bleaching creams or similar products as the very act of bleaching is a dangerous one.

One that might end up causing chemical burns if you’re not careful.

If you’re going for this option, I’d advise consulting with your obstetrics or dermatology specialist on what cosmetics are safe and which ones ought to be avoided.

2. Covering the area with sunscreen

pregnant woman with cream on her belly

Another common solution is simply applying sunscreen on your abdominal region when you want to head outside.

This way, you limit the effects the sun has on your body and reduce the activity of melanin in that specific region.

That said, you should probably apply sunscreen on all exposed parts of your skin to protect yourself from the other dangers posed by sun exposure.

3. Eating leafy greens

pregnant woman eating leafy greens

While a slightly less assured method, some people have claimed that folic acid helps in reducing the effects of linea nigra, making it smaller and thus harder to spot.

Folic acid is most commonly found and easily accessed in leafy greens, so if you want to hide it better, put a few more of those on your daily menu!

4. Waiting it out

pregnant woman with linea nigra lying

If you’re not too bothered by it, you can simply wait for the line to fade. It’ll disappear shortly after you deliver your baby if it happens during pregnancy.

While it may reappear at times, possibly because of one of the aforementioned reasons, it should fade again in no time.

In Conclusion

Linea nigra, a name that simply means “black line” in Latin, is a primarily prenatal condition in pregnant women where a dark vertical line forms across their abdomen.

The main cause is the rapid shifts in levels of pregnancy hormones causing the melanin production in their bodies to act abnormally, causing different forms of melasma and linea nigra in particular.

Thankfully, the condition is neither permanent nor harmful to either the mother or her future child and will fade away in time.

The only potential harm is superficial if you find it ugly which can easily be fixed through the use of cosmetics.

In the rare case that the linea nigra doesn’t disappear after you give birth, make an appointment with your doctor or obstetrics professional to determine the reason.

You may have had some underlying medical condition which has caused it and you may need to treat it in order for the black line to disappear.

Either way, don’t forget you’re beautiful mamma and your body has created a miracle!

READ NEXT: What Is A Pregnancy Mask (Melasma) & What Can You Do About It?

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