Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Linea nigra is the dark line that runs from your navel to your pubic bone. This is a line that may have always been there, but you may have never noticed it before because it was a light color. During pregnancy this line darkens and is possibly caused by the imbalance in hormones. It usually appears around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy.
The brownish streak is usually about a centimeter in width. The line runs vertically along the midline of the abdomen from the pubis to the umbilicus, but can also run from the pubis to the top of the abdomen. Linea nigra is due to increased melanocyte-stimulating hormone made by the placenta, which also causes melasma and darkened nipples. Fair-skinned women show this phenomenon less often than women with darker pigmentation. Before it appears it may be more faintly visible as a white line.
Some women may notice linea alba (a white line) surface before the darkening occurs. The line usually appears more brownish than black, but can be quite dark for some women. This darkening is as a result of the increase in a skin pigment called melanin. Darker skinned women will be more likely to have linea negra than fair skinned woman.
Pregnancy hormones, which are also responsible for your newly darkened areolas and freckles as well as an impressive variety of other skin anomalies, are behind this weird little stripe — which you've earned just by becoming pregnant.
The incidence of linea nigra was studied in 1,550 Nigerians of both sexes and of different age groups and among pregnant women and men with benign and malignant prostatic diseases over a nine-month period. From the study, it would appear that linea nigra increases in incidence from the age group 0-15 years (31.4%) to the age group 16-30 years (47.3%) before starting to fall in clinically normal individuals >30 years to 19.2%. For age groups 0-5 years, 6-10 years and 16-30 years, females more often than males have a linea nigra. For age group 11-15, males are equally as likely as females to have a linea nigra. The results suggest that women over 30 are more likely to have a linea nigra than men, but there are too few patients to make a definite statement, given the number of statistical tests performed. Pregnant women far more often have a linea nigra than nonpregnant women of the same age. The findings suggest that the likelihood of having a linea nigra depends on the level of sex hormones. This means that changes in the levels of hormones, either due to disease or drugs, may be reflected in changes in the incidence of a linea nigra. If this finding is confirmed, the linea nigra may serve as a convenient, noninvasive, free marker of alterations in sex hormones.
In most women it is hardly noticeable. However, when a woman is pregnant, the linea nigra may darken from a light, rosy brown to a very dark brown.Some women feel initially concerned that a dark line now runs down the middle of their belly. In many cases, the darkening of the linea nigra will disappear a few months after a pregnancy ends. Not all women will have a noticeable linea nigra even during pregnancy. Women with darker skin are more likely to have a darker line. This does not preclude women with light skin from developing a darker linea nigra, however.
As for any other organ system, diagnosis of skin disease involvesa history, examination and sometimes additional tests. The visibilityof skin allows an instant diagnosis in some cases, or at least a`diagnostic label' for the type of disease process being considered,using a variety of visual clues which include not only the individuallesional morphology but other factors such as the body sitedistribution, color, scaling and arrangement of lesions. Suchapparently effortless pattern recognition is actually quite complexwhen the individual components are analyzed separately.Further history, histopathology examination of skin biopsies, andother investigations, may be needed to refine the diagnosis or, insome instances, to identify a cause.
Most women will find that the linea nigra disappears quickly after pregnancy, although women who breastfeed may need to wait a bit longer for its disappearance. Many wear their linea nigra as a proud sign of either becoming a mom, or already being one, and others often find that a little concealer will hide a leftover linea nigra if one is embarrassed by it showing.
After your baby is born, the line should gradually fade all on its own.
There's some evidence to indicate that skin discolorations are related to folic acid deficiency. Make sure you're eating a healthy pregnancy diet with plenty from green leafy vegetables, oranges, and whole-wheat breads and cereals (you're getting plenty in your pregnancy supplement, too). Whether it minimizes your linea nigra or not, it'll certainly be good for your baby.
Spending too much time working on your tan can intensify skin discoloration during pregnancy. Use sunblock (at least SPF 15), or keep your belly under wraps.
NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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