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Pregnancy And Skin: What To Know About Linea Nigra And Its Causes, Symptoms And Management

Linea nigra, also known as the pregnancy line on the stomach, is characterised by a hyperpigmented vertical line on the abdomen of pregnant women, mainly noticed during the second trimester of pregnancy. The line runs from the pubic bone area to the belly button and may also extend to the chest area. This pregnancy line often vanishes after a few months of delivery.

Studies say that during pregnancy, around 90 per cent of women experience complex skin changes and most of them are harmless and usually resolved during postpartum. Linea nigra is also a harmless skin condition and mainly a result of hormonal changes. [1]

Let's take a look at the condition in detail.

Causes Of Linea Nigra

Pregnancy is linked to many immunological, endocrinological, vascular and metabolic changes in the body which can influence changes in skin and other body organs in different ways.

Hyperpigmented changes like linea nigra are mainly a result of increased levels of oestrogen, progesterone and melanocyte-stimulating hormones. Also, it's not only the stomach area that gets affected with pigmentary changes, but areas like areola, nipples and genitals may also get darker with gestation progress.

The increased levels of oestrogen and progesterone lead to increased production of melanin, a natural skin pigment that gives colour to the skin, hair and eyes. This results in the darkening of the skin and thus, linea nigra.

Who Else Gets Linea Nigra?

Linea nigra is also noticed in other people along with pregnant women. They include: [2]

  • Men with advanced liver cirrhosis.
  • Occasionally in men who are on hypertension drugs.
  • Older men with benign prostate cancer or prostatic hyperplasia. [3]
  • People between age groups 16-30 years compared to age groups 0-15 years and greater than 30 years.
  • People belonging to black ethnicity compared to Caucasians.

Note: Linea nigra is prevalent in pregnant women compared to nonpregnant women of the same age.

Symptoms Of Linea Nigra

Linea nigra may look like:

  • A long vertical line from the pubic bone to the belly button and even beyond to the lowest point of the chest.
  • The vertical line has a consistent width of around one centimetre.
  • The intensity and width of linea nigra may increase but equally, along the entire length.
  • The condition often causes the navel to displace to the right. This is called the 'ligamentum teres sign'. [4]

Note: Some women may not get this pregnancy line on the stomach. Therefore, if you won't get it, there is nothing to be worried about.

Complications Of Linea Nigra

There are no complications associated with linea nigra. It is just a natural part of pregnancy.

Management Of Linea Nigra

Linea nigra disappears after the delivery of the baby mainly because of the balance of hormones and other immunological and metabolic functions.

Some studies say that consumption of folic acid-rich foods can help reduce the formation of linea nigra. Food rich in folic acid includes green leafy vegetables like spinach and asparagus, whole grains like wheat and barley and fruits like orange and lime. [5]

In case when the lines do not disappear even after the delivery, consult a medical expert for skin bleaching cream or other skin products which could help lighten the lines. Also, avoid using these cosmetic creams during the pregnancy or breastfeeding period.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight as it may cause the marks to darken even more.
  • Avoid using wax to remove the pregnancy lines as this may result in inflammation of the skin or small pimples.
  • Avoid using creams that contain too many chemicals as this may worsen the linings.
  • Check with a medical expert even before using any herbal products.

To Conclude

Linea nigra is often noticed as a good sign of pregnancy and is not something pregnant women should be worried about. The line will appear and disappear on its own. Also, if you have linea nigra in your first pregnancy, it is not likely that you will also have it in your second or more pregnancies. Even if it appears, it could be fainter or darker or may appear sooner or later. The reason for all these unpredictable factors is still unknown.

Image Sources: Pexels and Freepik

Does everyone get a linea nigra?

No, though linea nigra is a common pregnancy sign in around 90 per cent of women, not every woman gets it. Also, this pregnancy line is prevalent in pregnant women belonging to the black ethnicity compared to Caucasians.

Why do I have a linea nigra?

The common cause for the appearance of linea nigra is hormonal, immunological, endocrinological, vascular and metabolic changes in the body during pregnancy.

Will my linea nigra go away?

Yes, linea nigra usually goes away during the postpartum period or a few weeks after the delivery mainly due to the balance of hormones and other body functions. In case, it does not go away even after several weeks of delivery, consult a medical expert for certain creams to lighten the line.

What month does linea nigra appear?

The lines of pregnancy or line nigra usually appear during the second trimester of pregnancy, as mentioned in a study published in the Journal Of Family Medicine and Primary Care.

How do you get rid of linea nigra?

Linea nigra go on its own after the delivery. One must keep in mind not to use any chemical-based creams or wax treatments to remove the line during the pregnancy.

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