Linea alba: what it is and why it appears

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Linea alba in pregnancy

Linea alba, also called linea nigra, is a dark line that can appear on the belly during pregnancy. This line is created in the second trimetre (therefore from the fourth month) on the abdomen and stretches from the navel to the pubic bone, but it does not happen in all women. This long line indeed it is produced by hormonal imbalances, in particular estrogens, which cause an increase in the production of melanin, which is the pigmentation of the skin. It is not a hallmark of a pregnancy. In fact, it does not appear in all women, but it depends on many factors such as skin type, sun exposure and, indeed, hormones. 

Read also: How much and how does the belly grow in pregnancy

In this article

  • Linea alba and linea nigra: what they are
  • Alba line: when it appears
  • Linea alba: why it appears
  • Line alba: how to cure it and when it disappears

Linea alba and linea nigra: what they are

The linea nigra is a dark brown line about one centimeter wide, which becomes more and more visible with the prolongation of gestation. Normally it starts from the navel up to the pubis, but in some women it also reaches below the breast. This line is also called alba because it is this line, normally made up of white fibers, therefore not visible, which divide the rectus abdominal muscles into two sections. The rectus abdominis muscles are divided into two sections by a line of white fibers, called the linea alba. This thin fibrous membrane is mainly composed of collagen. The linea alba is located between the margins of the two rectus muscles and is formed by the aponeurosis of the external oblique muscle, the internal oblique muscle and the transverse muscle. Hence, during pregnancy, it turns dark due to the increased production of melanin. This is why the two names are often confused.

Alba line: when it appears

Normally the linea alba does form from the second quarter, then from the fourth month of pregnancy and, from week to week, it widens and darkens. However, we cannot be certain whether or when it will appear. In fact, as previously mentioned, it does not appear in all women. According to a popular belief, however, the sex of the unborn child could be understood according to the length of the linea alba: if the dark mark went towards the upper part of the abdomen, the child was probably a girl; if, on the other hand, the line went down, then from the navel to the pubis, it was a male. There is obviously nothing scientific.

Linea alba: why it appears

Not all pregnancies are the same and it is not sure if linea alba appears. It usually appears to those who already have darker skin because they are already led to produce more melatonin. But during the gestation period it is not only the lina alba that darkens. Often, in fact, spots also appear on the face or on other parts of the body. The increase in melanin production in pregnancy, also called chloasma gravidarum, also occurs in other areas of the face and body, such as the sides of the nose, upper lip, cheeks and forehead, areolas, vulva and inner thighs.

Line alba: how to cure it and when it disappears

The linea alba is not symptomatic and therefore its appearance does not involve any problems. Any exposure to the sun's rays can accentuate this temporary phenomenon. Instead, his disappearance takes place after 2-3 months from birth in a natural way, without the need for creams or other treatments. However, it is useful to keep the skin elastic and well hydrated during the nine months of pregnancy to avoid stretch marks, through the use of natural creams and oils. In addition, it is always better to expose yourself to the sun with a high protection cream. Only rarely can linea nigra remain permanent after the baby is born. In this case, it is recommended that you contact your doctor for suitable treatment.

Article sources: Multimedica and Dermnetnz

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