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Skin changes during pregnancy - linea nigra

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Linea nigra is a dark line of skin down the middle of your abdomen (tummy) that often develops in pregnancy.
  • Linea nigra is not dangerous — it won’t cause any problems for you or your baby and doesn’t need treatment.
  • It will usually fade after your baby is born, but it might not disappear.
  • If you expose your abdomen to the sun, you may find your linea nigra becomes darker.
  • See your doctor if you have any other dark areas of skin on your abdomen.

What is linea nigra?

Linea nigra (sometimes called the ‘pregnancy line’) is a dark line of skin down the middle of your abdomen. It starts from your belly button and goes down to your pubic area. In some people it also goes up towards the top of their abdomen.

It often develops during the first trimester of pregnancy. It can also occur in people who aren’t pregnant.

Linea nigra (the ‘pregnancy line’) is a dark line of skin down the middle of your abdomen.

What causes linea nigra?

When you’re pregnant, hormonal changes in your body cause your skin to make more melanin. Melanin is the substance that gives your skin it’s colour. Higher melanin levels can cause some areas of your skin to become darker during pregnancy. This is more likely if you have naturally darker skin.

The linea nigra is one of the areas that can become darker. It is caused by darkening of the linea alba, which is a band of connective tissue that joins your abdominal muscles together.

Image of linea nigra
Image of linea nigra (sometimes called the ‘pregnancy line’).

Can I prevent getting linea nigra?

There is no proven way to completely prevent linea nigra. It’s possible that folate (also known as folic acid) may lower your chance of developing linea nigra. Try to eat foods rich in folate, such as green leafy vegetables, lentils and citrus fruits. Some breads and cereals have folic acid added during the manufacturing process.

In any case, it’s important to take a folic acid supplement for at least a month before you become pregnant and for the first 3 months of pregnancy, because this lowers your baby’s risk of having a neural tube defect.

Sun exposure may make linea nigra darker, so it’s best to protect your abdomen from the sun. In any case, sun protection is important for your health, to lower your risk of skin cancer.

Will linea nigra affect my pregnancy?

If you have linea nigra, it won’t cause any health problems to you. You might find that the line gets darker and wider as your pregnancy progresses — this is normal.

How is linea nigra treated?

Linea nigra doesn’t need treatment. Some people have tried bleaching the area, but these treatments have not worked. Keep in mind also that bleaching creams containing hydroquinone can be harmful for your baby and should not be used during pregnancy.

Will linea nigra affect my baby?

Linea nigra won’t have any effect on your baby at all.

When should I see my doctor about linea nigra?

If you have a dark line on your abdomen and you’re not sure what it is, you can show it to your doctor. They will be able to tell by looking at it if it’s linea nigra.

See your doctor if you notice any other dark areas of skin on your abdomen. There are some health conditions and moles that can show up as a dark patch of skin.

Will I still have linea nigra after I've had my baby?

Your linea nigra will probably fade with time after your baby is born, but it might not disappear.

Will I have linea nigra in future pregnancies?

Your linea nigra might come back if you become pregnant again.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2022


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