Indian Journal of Dermatology
  Publication of IADVL, WB
  Official organ of AADV
Indexed with Science Citation Index (E) , Web of Science and PubMed
Users online: 7476  
Home About  Editorial Board  Current Issue Archives Online Early Coming Soon Guidelines Subscriptions  e-Alerts    Login  
    Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size Print this page Email this page

Table of Contents 
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 465-467
Adermatoglyphia in the era of biometrics

1 From the Department of Dermatology, Calcutta National Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Pathology, Wizderm Specialty Skin and Hair Clinic, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Dermatology, Wizderm Specialty Skin and Hair Clinic, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
4 Department of Dermatology, Institute of Child Health, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Web Publication2-Nov-2022

Correspondence Address:
Sandipan Dhar
Department of Dermatology, Institute of Child Health, Kolkata, West Bengal
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijd.ijd_54_21

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
De A, Dhar S, Sarda A, Dhar S. Adermatoglyphia in the era of biometrics. Indian J Dermatol 2022;67:465-7

How to cite this URL:
De A, Dhar S, Sarda A, Dhar S. Adermatoglyphia in the era of biometrics. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 8];67:465-7. Available from:


The term 'dermatoglyphics' was coined by Cummins and Midlo in 1926, rooting from the combination of two words of ancient Greek origin, namely, 'derma' for skin and 'glyphos' for carvings.[1] It is the scientific study of intricate integumentary ridge patterns that form on mainly the fingertips but also on the toes, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. These naturally occurring patterns are believed to be unique to an individual and remain unchanged from birth until death. Dermatoglyphics are of immense importance in medicine, forensics, anthropology, and for security purpose of a country/state.

Biometric method using fingerprinting (dactylography) is the most used and the least complicated method for human identification and authentication. It is an integral component of a personal profile and biodata in the modern world.

Adermatoglyphia is defined clinically as the congenital or an acquired loss of the epidermal ridge pattern.[2] Congenital adermatoglyphia has been referred to as 'immigration delay disease' by Professor Peter Itin after his first patient had trouble traveling to the USA without any fingerprints for identification.[3] In 2007, a Swiss woman was denied entry into the USA because she had no fingerprints.[4] Similar issue was reported in Benue state, Nigeria, where a Christian pilgrim was denied the e-passport by the Nigerian immigration authority.[5]

In this correspondence, we would like to draw attention to the obstacles faced by patients suffering from adermatoglyphia while facing a mandatory biometric fingerprinting procedure, as alternative methods of identification, authentication, and verification are not readily available.

Adermatoglyphia can be limited to a few digits or can affect all fingers. In partial adermatoglyphia, there is a partial loss of the ridges, i.e., ridges are unnoticeable on naked eye inspection but can be demonstrated under a magnifying device. In complete adermatoglyphia, there is a complete absence depicting total effacement of epidermal ridges.

The epidermal ridges usually develop around 17 weeks in utero and coincide with the regression of embryonic volar pads on the fingers, palms, and soles.[6] Their formation is influenced by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Loss of fingerprints can be congenital or acquired. The congenital form can be part of a complex syndrome or more rarely present as an isolated finding. The isolated congenital cases usually have a point mutation in the splice site of a 3' exon of the gene for SMARCAD1-helicase at chromosome 4q22 and is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner.[7]

Other congenital syndromes associated with loss of dermatoglyphics are Basans syndrome, Naegeli–Franceschetti–Jadassohn syndrome, Dermatopathi apigmentosa reticularis, Reticulate acropigmentation of Kitamura, Rothmund–Thomson syndrome, and Dyschromatosis universalis hereditaria.[8]

Acquired loss of dermatoglyphics can be because of dermatological or non-dermatological causes. Dermatological conditions such as eczemas (e.g., contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis), blistering diseases (e.g., epidermolysisbullosa, pemphigus vulgaris, Steven Johnson syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis), and disorders of keratinization (e.g., psoriasis, keratoderma blennorrhagica) or infections (e.g., palmar warts, leprosy, and Tinea manuum) can be responsible for acquired loss of dermatoglyphics in a few digits or in all fingers. Non-dermatological causes of acquired adermatoglyphia include trauma, burns, and amputations. Potent corticosteroids can cause epidermal ridge atrophy.[9] In recent years, capecitabine-induced adermatoglyphia has resulted in immigration delays at airports and travel warnings for patients undergoing capecitabine chemotherapy.[10]

Primary adermatoglyphia is extremely uncommon. Data from the Lebanese Ministry of Internal Affairs of the people applying for biometric identity cards showed 0.18% had no fingerprints with a female predominance and an increased incidence in the aging population. A total of 137 of these 259 were noted as having a dermatologic condition resulting in adermatoglyphia, with the others falling into four other categories of loss: burns, amputations, dystonia, and wounds.[11]

During the past few decades, biometric verification, involving fingerprinting, has become mandatory and stringent in many situations, such as in the immigrations, office attendances, bank account verification, granting citizenship, driver's licenses, passports, etc., However, there is a complete absence of scientific guidelines or a protocol for adermatoglyphia patients undergoing a mandatory fingerprint verification. Through this communication, we would like to draw attention of our fraternity colleagues and researchers to give due consideration to this aspect and help evolving mechanism in the development of structured and scientific alternate method for identification of persons with absence of epidermal ridges. We urge the administration needs to keep this issue into consideration and consider retina scan as mandatory and fingerprint scan as an optional method of identification.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Cummins H, Midlo C. Palmar and plantar epidermal configuration (dermatoglyphics) in European, Americans. Am J Phy Anthropol 1926;9:471-502.  Back to cited text no. 1
“Adermatoglyphia,” Genetic Home Reference; 2020. Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 Dec 29].  Back to cited text no. 2
Burger B, Fuchs D, Sprecher E, Itin P. The immigration delay disease: Adermatoglyphia-inherited absence of epidermal ridges. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011;64:974-80.  Back to cited text no. 3
Dereure O. Adermatoglyphia or 'immigration delay disease': The role of mutations in the SMARCAD1 gene. Ann Dermatol Venereol 2012;139:75-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Onyemocho A, Omala E, Onum E, Anigilaje E. Adermatoglyphia; A cause of serious delay in issuance of Immigration epassport to a christian pilgrim in Nigeria: A case report. Int J Adv Case Rep 2015;2:732-5.  Back to cited text no. 5
Verbov J. Clinical significance and genetics of epidermal ridgesea review of dermatoglyphics. J Invest Dermatol 1970;54:261-71.  Back to cited text no. 6
Nousbeck J, Sarig O, Magal L, Warshauer E, Burger B, Itin P, et al. Mutations in SMARCAD1 cause autosomal dominant adermatoglyphia and perturb the expression of epidermal differentiation-associated genes. Br J Dermatol 2014;171:1521-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
Sarfraz N.Adermatoglyphia: Barriers to biometric identification and the need for a standardized alternative. Cureus 2019;11:e4040.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sergeant A, McPhee N, Holme SA. Acquired loss of fingerprints: Do topical corticosteroids play an aetiological role?. Clin Exp Dermatol 2012;37:679-80.  Back to cited text no. 9
Cohen PR. Capecitabine-associated loss of fingerprints: Report of capecitabine induced adermatoglyphia in two women with breast cancer and review of acquired dermatoglyphic absence in oncology patients treated with capecitabine. Cureus 2017;9:e96.  Back to cited text no. 10
Haber R, Helou J, Korkomaz J, Habre M, Ghanem A, Tomb R. Absence of fingertips with focus on dermatological etiologies: National survey and review. J Clin Dermatol 2015;3:21-6.  Back to cited text no. 11


Print this article  Email this article
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Article in PDF (1,031 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  


 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded17    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal