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Linea nigra (Latin for "black line") is a term for the dark vertical line that appears on a woman's abdomen during pregnancy. Common in about 75% of pregnancies, the line appears as a brownish streak about a centimeter wide. It runs from the bottom of the rib cage to the pubic bone.

It is a type of hyperpigmentation more common in women with darker skin and is thought to be associated with an increased production of melanin. The cause is most likely an increase in the amount of circulating estrogen, which also causes the areolas to darken. Linea nigra tends to appear round the second trimester and may last for months after the baby is born. In some women the line may fade but never completely go away. Sun exposure may cause it to recur.

While linea nigra doesn't pose any danger to either the baby or mother, it does bother some women. There isn't much you can do to stop its development, but you can help to reduce the color and site of the line:

•Minimize exposure to the sun and wear sunscreen when you can't. Chemical free options containing zinc oxide as found in [Link Removed]may be wise choices during pregnancy. Check with your physician if you aren't sure
•Increase your intake of folic acid, which is essential to a healthy pregnancy. A deficiency may be associated with the development of linea nigra
•Consider using makeup to cover up the line

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed]
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