Fingerprint changes and verification failure among patients with hand dermatitis

JAMA Dermatol. 2013 Mar;149(3):295-9. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.1425.


Objectives: To determine the prevalence of fingerprint verification failure and to define and quantify the fingerprint changes associated with fingerprint verification failure.

Design: Case-control study.

Setting: Referral public dermatology center.

Patients: The study included 100 consecutive patients with clinical hand dermatitis involving the palmar distal phalanx of either thumb and 100 age-, sex-, and ethnicity-matched controls. Patients with an altered thumb print due to other causes and palmar hyperhidrosis were excluded.

Main outcome measures: Fingerprint verification(pass/fail) and hand eczema severity index score.

Results: Twenty-seven percent of patients failed fingerprint verification compared with 2% of controls. Fingerprint verification failure was associated with a higher hand eczema severity index score (P.001). The main fingerprint abnormalities were fingerprint dystrophy (42.0%) and abnormal white lines (79.5%). The number of abnormal white lines was significantly higher among the patients with hand dermatitis compared with controls(P=.001). Among the patients with hand dermatitis, theodds of failing fingerprint verification with fingerprint dystrophy was 4.01. The presence of broad lines and long lines was associated with a greater odds of fingerprint verification failure (odds ratio [OR], 8.04; 95% CI, 3.56-18.17 and OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.31-4.27, respectively),while the presence of thin lines was protective of verification failure (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.23-0.89).

Conclusions: Fingerprint verification failure is a significant problem among patients with more severe hand dermatitis. It is mainly due to fingerprint dystrophy and abnormal white lines.

Trial registration: Malaysian National Medical Research Register Identifier: NMRR-11-30-8226

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dermatoglyphics*
  • Eczema / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hand Dermatoses / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult