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What causes the black line (linea nigra) on my belly during pregnancy?

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Pregnancy hormones are behind the appearance of the linea nigra (Latin for “black line”). The condition is the darkening of your linea alba, the “white” or “colorless line” of skin you’d probably never noticed that runs between your belly button and your pelvis.

In fact, the skin all over your body becomes hyperpigmented, or darkened, during pregnancy (you might also notice the skin on your face darkening too, known as melanoma or the “mask of pregnancy” as well as newly darker areolas). The linea nigra is likely to be more pronounced if you have darker skin.

Linea nigra often appears in the second trimester and persists throughout pregnancy. Typically about one centimeter wide, the line usually begins at the pubic bone and continues to the belly button, but in some cases may extend just below the breast.

Is linea nigra dangerous?

No, this pregnant belly line is not dangerous, although its appearance can be worrisome. In fact, up to 75 percent of women experience this hormone-induced darkening of the skin during pregnancy. “It is considered cosmetic and is not something to be concerned about”.

How to get rid of linea nigra

If you really want to get rid of linea nigra, Dr. Sheth says you can use bleaching creams after delivery if you’re formula-feeding, or you could try a fade cream or topical retinol. If you want a natural approach, try applying a little lemon juice to your skin. “Some women say the acids help fade hyperpigmentation”.

Also, to minimize discoloration, keep your belly covered when you go to the beach and don’t use tanning beds (which you should avoid anyway). But rest assured that the line will eventually disappear after your baby is born!

The linea nigra should gradually fade all on its own a few months after your baby is born.