Linea nigra is a dark vertical line that appears on the belly during pregnancy. It can extend from the top of the belly to the pubic area, running through the center of the belly button, or the line can be shorter. Increased hormones present during pregnancy stimulate increased pigment production, causing this area to darken. After the baby is born, the line of linea nigra typically fades. Depending on your skin color, this may take up to a year after pregnancy.
Who's At Risk
Linea nigra tends to appear some time in the second trimester of pregnancy. It is more prominent in women of color. It is also present on women with fair skin, though it is not as noticeable.
Signs and Symptoms
The line of linea nigra is darker than the surrounding skin and approximately a centimeter in width. It can be quite dark or fairly light in color.
No treatment is needed. The line should slowly fade after the baby is born. However, sun exposure can cause it to become darker or take longer to go away, so use a sunblock (at least SPF 15) or keep your belly covered.
When to Seek Medical Care
No medical care is needed to treat linea nigra. Continue to take your prenatal vitamins and otherwise follow routine prenatal care guidelines.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Your doctor will continue routine prenatal care.
Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology
, p. 990. New York: Mosby, 2003.
Wolff, Klaus, ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine
ed, pp. 635, 955. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.