Women can have brown lines on their bellies – it isn’t just to do with pregnancy

Everyone has a unique body – from different shapes to different sizes.

Many of us may say we know our bodies pretty well, being able to notice any changes that may occur.

Just like how a lot of women’s bodies change during pregnancy with a big bump and sore boobs – and a brown line on the abdomen.

But, have you ever wondered what the vertical brown line is called or why it appears on the stomach area in the first place ?

Well, the Daily Star spoke exclusively to Dr Deborah Lee from the Dr Fox Online Pharmacy about what the line is called and why it appears in the first place.

She said: “Linea nigra is the medical term for the darkly pigmented line that is often visible, running down the centre of the abdomen, in pregnancy. It comes from the latin, linea nigra, which literally means a black line.

“It takes the form of a dark line, which stretches from just above the pubic bone, up to the umbilicus, but it may also run right up to the chest.

The linea nigra often appears in pregnancy, and is caused by hormonal changes in the body.

Dr Lee said: “In pregnancy, hyperpigmentation is common, and is thought to be caused by high levels of estrogen, progesterone, and melanin. Estrogen stimulates specific cells, known as melanocytes, to produce more of the dark skin pigment, melanin.

“If you have a linea nigra in pregnancy, this is nothing to be worried about and usually disappears by itself after delivery. The line is usually less than 1 cm in diameter. Quite often, it has a right sided deviation around the belly button"

And despite common belief, not only pregnant women see the line appear.

“Linea nigra can also develop in non-pregnant women", the expert explained.

This can be for a number of reasons relating to hormones, but can also be a sign that you may have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

Dr Lee shared: “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), is a common endocrine disorder, associated with irregular periods, anovulation, obesity, infertility, acne, and hirsutism.

“High levels of estrogens and androgens (male hormones) are thought to be responsible for the development of hyperpigmentation.”

But the linea nigra is not just limited to women, men can also see the line appear on their abdomen.

“Men can also develop linea nigra. The reasons for this are not well understood but it may be due to excess estrogen, or to lack of sensitivity of androgen (male hormone) receptors.”

A linea nigra is completely harmless and should be left alone, warns Dr Lee.

To avoid the line getting any darker and to protect your stomach if pregnant, staying away from direct sunlight is urged.

The expert said: “The best advice is to avoid exposure of your pregnant (non-pregnant) abdomen to the sun, and to take folic acid supplements. Folic acid is also found in large quantities in leafy green vegetables.

“You should avoid the use of any skin bleaching creams in pregnancy as these may be harmful to your unborn baby.

“Take care as there are some misleading comments about this on the internet. Always discuss this with your GP, midwife or Obstetrician before you try any local skin treatments.

“These are not needed as the condition is harmless and will fade quite naturally.”

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