Linea nigra is a Latin phrase which means ‘black line’. It refers to the dark line in the centre of the belly running from the pubic bones below to the navel above and sometimes even beyond. This is most commonly seen during pregnancy. This line is always there even before pregnancy though it may not be noticeable because of its light colour. At that stage it is referred to as Linea alba or the ‘white line’.
Pregnancy and the formation of the black line:
The dark colour during pregnancy is caused by the hormone melanin, produced by the placenta. Similar darker pigmentation can also be seen around the nipple, the butterfly pattern on face – the ‘mask of pregnancy’ and on several other areas of the body like the armpits.
Many women get alarmed when the Linea nigra appears around 6th month of pregnancy but there is no need for concern. This is a natural and normal phenomenon and has absolutely no bad effects on the pregnancy itself. It’s simply part of the changes that happen during pregnancy. Most certainly it will lighten after delivery or latest after breast feeding is over. The only impact of this change is cosmetic in nature.
Don’t get scared with the mask of pregnancy:
Women who are embarrassed by it can simply cover up with clothes or concealers. It is important to avoid exposure to the sun by wearing appropriate length of clothes. Other than that it doesn’t justify treatment of any kind. However, if this darkening of the Linea occurs in the absence of pregnancy it could signify a hormonal problem with the adrenal glands. Sometimes it may also be seen in women with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. So the appearance of Linea nigra without pregnancy justifies investigation and treatment. Other than that, when occurring in pregnancy, it can simply be ignored and considered as a temporary ‘prize’ of pregnancy which has no bad internal effects on the pregnancy or baby.
Aspects to be kept in mind:
Discuss with your doctors your concerns
Don’t get panicked, it is a natural process
Use concealers and wear long clothes to cover the pigmentation
If you are not pregnant and are experiencing the same, consult a doctor, it could be due to a hormonal imbalance