Linea Nigra

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Images of Linea Nigra

Overview

Linea nigra is the medical term for the dark vertical line that appears on a pregnant woman's belly during pregnancy. It is darker in color than the surrounding skin, and it extends from the top of the belly down to the pubic hair, running through the belly button. The reason for the development of the line is probably related to hormonal changes; after pregnancy, the linea nigra usually disappears. The darker your original skin color, the longer this will take, so it may take a year for the linea nigra to go away in some women. Sometimes babies, who share their mother's hormones before birth, will be born with a similar line that also fades over time.

Who's at risk?

Linea nigra usually appears about halfway through pregnancy. It can occur in anyone of any race, but tends to be more obvious in women of color.

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

Clinical Information and Differential Diagnosis of Linea Nigra

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.