Did You Know

Can Fingerprints Be Permanently Changed Or Destroyed?

Your fingerprints started to develop while you were just 10 weeks old. By the time you are a 4-month-old baby, the formation of your fingerprints is complete, and they remain the same as long as you live.

If you thought about robbing a bank, and you are wondering if the police will be able to track the fingerprints back to you, you have come to the right place. Just kidding, so do not start planning a perfect money heist, as fingerprints you have now, are yours forever.

Fingerprint Creation

To be precise on this matter, your fingerprints started to develop while you were just 10 weeks old, living inside your mother’s womb. By the time you are a 4-month-old baby, the formation of your fingerprints is complete. Why do they appear, and why is the skin on the very tip of our fingers not smooth?

Our skin has one layer that is known as a basal layer. As we develop as human beings, our skin begins to grow. That basal layer is the one that, technically speaking - deforms. The basal layer of our skin finds itself between the dermis and the epidermis, which are the inside layer, and the outside layer of our skin, respectively.

The basal layer grows faster than the other two layers, so it starts to buckle and create folds. Those folds then become our fingerprints - very complex forms that are unique to every individual human being. So, strictly speaking, fingerprints are a code that is created between the dermis and the epidermis. 

Fingerprints Stay The Same For Our Whole Life

Your fingerprints remain the same as long as you live. You have probably cut a finger or two during your lifetime while slicing an onion. You also witnessed how, when the wound has healed, the fingerprints are back to normal, and they have the same exact patterns prior to the injury. Other medical conditions that affect our skin, like psoriasis, affect our fingerprints, but the damage is never permanent.  

Your fingerprints remain the same as long as you live
Your fingerprints remain the same as long as you live.

Even if you are involved in a more serious injury, the one that leaves a nasty scar on your fingers, the pattern outside the affected area remains the same. If you are still thinking about that bank robbery, or even worse, about the self-mutilation of your fingers, please stop. Also, if you create a scar on purpose, there is no way of hiding the pattern that lies underneath and around the injured area of your fingertip. 

The ridges you see on your fingers are used to wear and tear, we use our hands every day to handle and carry different objects, yet none of them will cause your fingerprints to fade out. 

Smooth Criminal

We definitely are not implying how only criminals are interested in seeing how this topic continues. At all. Ahem.

There are several genetic conditions that people are born with, and they are accompanied by a complete absence of fingerprints. The Naegeli-Franceschetti-Jadassohn syndrome is the one that causes severe skin problems - hyperpigmentation, different issues with the growth of hair and teeth, and - fingerprints.

People that are born with this condition have no fingerprints. The fingerprints do not appear because this syndrome comes from gene mutations that are associated with keratin. The basal layer of our skin, the one where fingerprints are encoded, goes into a self-destructive mode because keratin is not fulfilling its purpose. 

Dermatopathia pigmentosa is a very similar condition that eliminates the process of fingerprint creation. Unlike these two, adermatoglyphia does not affect a person’s skin, teeth, or hair, and people have no other symptoms other than the complete lack of fingerprints.

About the Author

Antonia is a sociologist and an anglicist by education, but a writer and a behavior enthusiast by inclination. If she's not writing, editing or reading, you can usually find her snuggling with her huge dog or being obsessed with a new true-crime podcast. She also has a (questionably) healthy appreciation for avocados and Seinfeld.

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