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The Effects of Hand Dermatitis on Fingerprint Verification

As if hand eczema weren’t uncomfortable enough, research shows that it has the added effect of changing fingerprints.  In a study of 100 patients, 27% failed their fingerprint verification due to skin abnormalities caused by their hand dermatitis.  The main abnormalities were fingerprint dystrophy and white lines, which were both found at a higher level in people with this condition.  
Hand dermatitis, or hand eczema, is a skin irritation that varies in severity.  At its most basic level the skin is red and dry, it then develops itchy bumps, fluid filled blisters, scaling, cracking, and swelling.  It is prone to bacterial infection, which involves crusting and can be very painful.  
Hand dermatitis can be genetic, or caused by an irritant or allergy.  Oftentimes it is caused by elements people come into contact with at work, or this increases its aggravation.  It is common among nurses who have to wash their hands frequently, as well as hairdressers because of their constant contact with chemicals that damage the skin’s protective oils.  Extreme weather conditions can also contribute to hand dermatitis, such as low humidity and cold weather or humid and hot weather.
Fingerprint verification is the most secure, and least complicated, form of identification.  It is used in national registration, immigration, banking transactions, and building and door access, to name a few.  While other physical features change over one’s lifetime, fingerprints stay the same time.  Therefore, hand dermatitis causing fingerprint abnormalities presents a unique challenge in an otherwise well working system.  
So what are the alternatives?  In the free dictionary identity is defined as, “the collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known.”  In an ever-expanding viral and global market, pinning down a definitive set of characteristics in a person is becoming increasingly more difficult.  Tracing one’s identity back to thumbprints and DNA may be our only definitive option.   
[Image by Hey Paul Studios]
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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