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Brown Lines on the Stomach When Pregnant

by
author image James Roland
James Roland started writing professionally in 1987. A former reporter and editor with the "Sarasota Herald-Tribune," he currently oversees such publications as the "Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor" and UCLA's "Healthy Years." Roland earned his Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Oregon.
Brown Lines on the Stomach When Pregnant
The linea nigra is just a darker version a line you already have. Photo Credit Steven Frame/iStock/Getty Images

Pregnancy is a time of exciting changes to your body. As the new life grows inside of you, your body begins to behave in ways you didn't know possible. Some of these changes may surprise and delight you, such as thicker hair and fingernails. Other changes may alarm you. Brown lines on your stomach may fit into that category, but there's no cause for concern.

The Symptom

The brown line that grows on your stomach during pregnancy is called the linea nigra. It is a Latin term that means black line. The thin vertical line appears faintly at first and may become darker as your pregnancy continues. It may also be darker if you have darker skin. The line usually starts at your belly button or just below it and travels straight to your pubic area. In some women the line travels up to the rib cage.

The Cause

Your linea nigra is actually just a darker version of a line you already had. The linea alba, which means white line, is never noticeable because it is the same color as your skin. During the second trimester of your pregnancy, pregnancy hormones cause your body to produce more melanin or pigment, which causes the linea alba to turn darker. The additional pigment may also cause you to develop temporary brown spots on your face and darker areolas on your breasts.

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Treatment

Unfortunately for those women who do not like the look of a vertical brown line up and their stomachs, there is nothing you can do about the linea nigra. It is a common symptom of pregnancy that you must accept. The good news, however, is that the linea nigra will go away on its own. It will fade soon after you deliver your baby. In some cases the line will be much less noticeable after giving birth, but it will never entirely disappear.

Concerns

If you don't want your linea nigra to get darker, then keep out of the sun. The darker your skin, the darker your vertical line. Remember, increased pigment one of your body's responses to the sun's ultraviolet rays. That's why you tan when you sunbathe; the ultraviolet rays bring out more melanin in your body. To keep your pigmentation lighter, use a strong sun screen and try not to expose your belly to the sun.

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References

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