Linea Nigra: What It Is and When Does It Go Away?

Pregnancy brings about numerous changes in the body, some expected and some that might come as a surprise to you. One such change during pregnancy is the appearance of the linea nigra, a dark line that can appear on the stomach. In this article, we delve into what causes linea nigra, when it appears and goes away, and whether you can prevent or treat linea nigra.

What Is a Linea Nigra?

One common and completely harmless skin change that occurs during pregnancy is the appearance of the linea nigra, a dark line on the stomach. The term “linea nigra” translates to “black line” in Latin. It generally runs in a vertical line from your pubic area to your belly button when you’re pregnant, and may also extend above the belly button. The darkness of the linea nigra may vary depending on your complexion and can appear darker as your pregnancy progresses.

What Causes Linea Nigra?

So, why do pregnant women get a line on their stomach? Linea nigra is thought to be attributed to the hormonal changes occurring in the body during pregnancy. Specifically, a rise in melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which may increase melanin, the pigment that gives your skin, hair, and eyes their color. This increase in melanin can cause the linea alba, a faint “white” line that runs from your belly button to your pubic bone and is present before pregnancy, to darken into the linea nigra. This increase in hormones during pregnancy is also the reason for melasma (also known as the mask of pregnancy) and the darkening of other areas of your body, such as your areolas or genital area.

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When Does Linea Nigra Appear?

Linea nigra typically appears during the second trimester of pregnancy, but this timing can vary among individuals. We all have a linea alba, a thin line of connective tissues running down our abdomen; however, it’s generally colorless until pregnancy. Hormonal increases during pregnancy lead to the darkening of this line down the tummy, changing it from linea alba into the linea nigra as the pregnancy progresses.

When Does Linea Nigra Go Away?

For many pregnant people, the appearance of linea nigra is a temporary change. This pregnant belly line typically fades on its own within a few months after childbirth as hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy state. However, the time it takes for the line to completely disappear can vary from one person to another. Some may notice it fading shortly after delivery, while for others, it may take longer.

Can You Avoid Getting a Pregnancy Line On Your Stomach?

It’s not entirely possible to prevent the development of a linea nigra, the dark line that can appear on the abdomen during pregnancy. The line appears due to hormonal changes in pregnancy and the body’s increased melanin production. However, this belly line in pregnancy will likely fade after childbirth—so hold on just a little longer and remember your body is doing wonderful things right now.

Linea Nigra Care Tips

There are no specific treatments required for this line down your belly or other skin conditions during pregnancy, such as melasma or hyperpigmentation. However, there are a few ways you can help reduce further pigmentation of the skin and help maintain your skin health in general during pregnancy.

  • Limit sun exposure. Since sun exposure can darken the pigmentation of your skin, wearing sunscreen and protective clothing when outside can help manage its intensity.

  • Maintain a healthy diet. Although it won’t prevent linea nigra, a healthy diet rich in folic acid might help with overall skin health. Foods rich in folic acid include green leafy vegetables, nuts, and citrus fruits.

  • Stay hydrated. Keeping your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water can help maintain its health during pregnancy, although it may not directly prevent linea nigra.

  • Use gentle skin care products. Opt for gentle, hypoallergenic skin care products to avoid irritating your skin. While this won’t prevent linea nigra, it can help keep your skin in good condition and is good if you’re experiencing itchy skin during pregnancy or stretch marks.

  • Consult with a dermatologist. If you’re concerned about skin changes during pregnancy, a dermatologist can offer advice on skincare and safe products to use.

It’s important to remember that linea nigra is a natural and common part of pregnancy for many people. If you have any concerns, contact your healthcare provider or a dermatologist.

The Bottom Line

Linea nigra is a natural part of pregnancy for many people, resulting from the hormonal changes. It’s neither harmful to you nor your baby and usually fades after childbirth. Understanding this and other pregnancy symptoms and bodily changes during pregnancy can help you prepare for and embrace the transformations your body undergoes. These changes are signs of the incredible process of bringing new life into the world. Before your little one arrives, why not download Pampers Club app for discounts on all those future diaper purchases.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.