Linea Nigra

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Images of Linea Nigra

Overview

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.

Self-Care Guidelines

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.

Trusted Links

MedlinePlus: Health Problems in Pregnancy

References

Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, p. 990. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Wolff, Klaus, ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed, pp. 635, 955. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.