What Is Linea Nigra? Will It Ever Go Away?

Linea nigra, also called pregnancy line, comes from Latin and means “black line.” A dark line develops on a pregnant woman’s belly and is usually seen in the second trimester, around 20 weeks of pregnancy. This happens to more than 90% of pregnant women. According to dermatologists (skin doctors), women always have a line on their stomach, but when they are not pregnant, the line is light and not noticeable. It is called linea alba, or “white line” in Latin. The dark pregnant belly line runs vertically down the belly from the pubic area to the navel and sometimes to the chest. It is also darker in women with darker skin tones because they have more pigmentation or color in their skin tone compared to more fair-skinned women.1,2,3,4,5

The black or dark line that runs vertically up and down a pregnant woman’s belly, called the linea nigra or the pregnant belly line, is usually seen in the second trimester of pregnancy. It usually begins to appear around 20 weeks or the fifth month of pregnancy and is about ¼- to ½ inch in diameter. This can be a bit scary if this is your first pregnancy and you are not familiar with the pregnancy line. But linea nigra is a normal part of pregnancy.1,2

Linea nigra occurs automatically when you are pregnant due to pregnancy hormones that increase the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is what gives the skin and other parts of the body a darker color. For example, melanin makes freckles. It also makes the color of the vaginal area in women, nipples, and around the nipples (areola) darker than the rest of the skin. Darker areas of the skin are called hyperpigmentation of the skin. During pregnancy, these dark areas become darker, starting in the first trimester. But the pregnancy line on the belly usually doesn’t appear until the second trimester, about 20 weeks. Sometimes, it will darken as your pregnancy progresses, which is also normal. It’s fun to show the other siblings where the new baby is! Just point the line.1,2,3,5

Linea nigra is such an ordinary part of being pregnant that more than 90% of women get a line of pregnancy.1 Some women do not get the pregnancy line, or it may be there but weak.2 Most women who get linea nigra in their first pregnancy are likely to have the same experience in subsequent pregnancies.6

People other than pregnant women can also develop linea nigra. It can occur in non-pregnant women, children, and men. It is not always known why this happens. Some people may have an underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed (usually in men over 50). Others will have it as children, but as they get older, it disappears. Linea nigra can also appear in older children during puberty when their hormone levels increase. This is generally considered a normal condition, but it’s worth a call to your provider just to be sure.1,2

Unfortunately, the answer is no. You cannot prevent or eliminate the pregnancy line. It appears because of your pregnancy hormones, and there is no way to change that.2 Some women feel that it looks unattractive on their beautiful pregnant belly. They even tried bleaching the pregnancy line, against the doctor’s advice, but with unsuccessful results.

Here are some things that can help the linea nigra, but not necessarily get rid of it:1,2,4

  • Use sunscreen to prevent your linea nigra from darkening in the sun.
  • Applying pregnancy-safe makeup along the pregnancy line to help hide it may be an option your doctor may allow.
  • Bleaching the area is not allowed until after you have delivered the baby and if you are not breastfeeding. Discuss this with your doctor to make sure you wait for the appropriate amount of time after giving birth.
  • Folic acid may help reduce the darkness of the linea nigra, but this has not been scientifically proven. Common foods with high levels of folic acid are green vegetables, whole wheat bread, oranges, and beans.

Linea nigra will disappear on its own after you deliver the baby. It may take weeks or months for the line to disappear because it happens gradually as your hormones return to normal after pregnancy. There are some cases where the line fades but doesn’t completely light up. Every woman is different. So, if you’re worried that it’s taking too long or not fading enough, discuss it with your provider. Usually, the doctor will tell you to let them know if the line does not fade or disappear three months after delivery.2,3,5

Embracing Your Changing Body

Your body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. Linea nigra is just one of them. And honestly, compared to other changes, like constant nausea and heartburn, your feet getting bigger, swelling pretty much everywhere, and your hair possibly falling out, the linea nigra is the least of your worries. .

It may be easier for some women to accept and accept the body changes that come with pregnancy, including the pregnancy line. For others, it’s not so simple. But we should try to embrace our changing bodies during pregnancy. At that time, the pregnancy may seem like it’s going on forever, and you can’t wait until it’s over. If you look at the bigger picture, pregnancy is a small blip in the time frame of our lives. Try to enjoy it as much as possible. Women are special because we can carry a child and give birth to a new life. It’s really amazing!

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