Age Limit: Do Fingerprints Change Overtime?

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For the past decade, modes of biometric identification have become the top ways of recognizing human identities. One of the main reasons why they are preferred by many people and even businesses is because they are cost-effective, distinct, and easy to acquire. They help in various ways, including analyzing, collecting finger print data, verifying and authenticating identity of different individuals.

Perhaps the most important feature of biometric identification is that it provides stability. It is also used in other fields, like border control, forensics analysis, access control and even unlocking smartphones.

Fingerprints – How are they formed?

Among other biometric technologies, fingerprint is the most recognized. According to a study done on the stability of fingerprints, the ridge pattern on the fingertips of an individual is made before birth. As children grow, these ridges become more visible and grow apart to form a proper sequence of identification.

The reason is due to the skin becoming more and more elastic as time goes by. Which means that its genetic biometric pattern can change once the child gets older.

Experts say that if a child’s fingerprint is enrolled to prove his identity, the fingerprint pattern will only work until he matures. Once he is older, the fingerprint will no longer be useful. After the age of 12, the child has stable fingerprints and it stays that way for a long period of time.

What Happens When We Age?

As an individual ages, his fingerprint ridges wear out and become more distant than how they were before. The pores on his fingertips become less lubricated which affects the quality of the fingertips as he ages. This results in low quality fingerprints.

Fingerprint ridges of aged individuals are not exactly similar to the ones sampled when they were young. Which is why, it can be a challenge for biometric scanners to identify whether the fingerprints belong to the same person or not. For example, passports are only usable for 10 years, and it’s because of various reasons. Mainly because it’s always best to collect samples of fingerprints every 5-10 years, in case of any future mismatch issues.

Even a permanent scar can cause the fingerprint of a person to look significantly different and may cause a serious impact on recognition. However, on re-enrollment, the scar can be viewed as a distinguished feature of a person.

Other than age, there are various other factors that can cause fingerprint patterns to change.

Heavy Work

People who work in construction, especially the ones who are in charge of layering bricks or the ones who wash dishes every day by hand can be at a risk of losing some fingerprint details. However, according to experts, once the heavy work has stopped completely, the ridges on the fingers will grow more prominent. In short, in cases other than natural diseases and old age, the change in fingerprint patterns is temporary.

Injuries and Diseases that Cause Change in Fingerprint Pattern

There are certain skin diseases that destroy the dermis and epidermis layer of the skin. As a result, it becomes very difficult for fingerprint recognition systems to recognize the prints of these individuals. Adermatoglyphia is an extremely rare genetic disorder that causes a person to have no fingerprints. People with this disorder have completely smooth fingertips, palms, toes and soles.

Are all fingerprints truly unique?

The answer is yes. The pattern of each unique fingerprint is already determined in the womb. During the first trimester of pregnancy, the finger tips already have established patterns that symbolize a person’s uniqueness.

Although fingerprint patterns may tend to change overtime, the best possible advice that medical experts give is to consistently collect your fingerprints every 5 to 10 years to ensure identity verifications.

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