If the skin is completely abraised or otherwise removed, will the renewed skin have the same fingerprint?

About 8 years back, I was running an obstacle course and one of the obstacles was to climb up a vertical rope, reach the top and come back down. I climbed up no problem but I didn't know how to come down, so I slid down the rope at the expense of friction to break the velocity. The rope was made of jute. This resulted in the skin from my finger tips and parts of my palms to completely tear away. The tears were deep enough to reveal muscle.

It took about a month or two for the skin to completely come back. My question is, when such an injury occurs, is it plausible to assume that my fingerprints now are the same as they were before the injury? If yes, what mechanism goes into ensuring this?

  • 3
    I think this is a really interesting question, but it needs some prior research. Have you looked into this at all? If so, what did you find? If not, you should. – Carey Gregory Dec 5 at 5:26
  • I was hoping to know some resources I could look into. Some books, articles, etc. I'm into math and the last time I did anything remotely biological was in high school. I'm looking for some direction. – tangentbundle Dec 5 at 5:47
  • 1
    This is definitely an interesting question as scarring changes the fingerprint according to this website but I am unsure on the validity of the claim – Chris Rogers Dec 5 at 11:48
  • @ChrisRogers - Scarring does change the fingerprint, because scar (fibrous) tissue is different than normal epidermal tissue. The fingerprint moving forward would be the same, however (The scar would just appear as a solid mark in the fingerprint). – JohnP Dec 5 at 14:09
  • A simple question: Does the skin on your fingertips look normal now or does it look like a skin after injury? Could someone see you had an injury just by looking at your fingertips? – Jan Dec 5 at 16:57
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The skin has 2 layers: epidermis (the outer) and dermis (the inner). Sliding down the rope may cause an abrasion in which only the epidermis is damaged. Scars develop only when the dermis is damaged.

Fingerprints (Britannica):

Each ridge of the epidermis (outer skin) is dotted with sweat pores for its entire length and is anchored to the dermis (inner skin) by a double row of peglike protuberances, or papillae. Injuries such as superficial burns, abrasions, or cuts do not affect the ridge structure or alter the dermal papillae, and the original pattern is duplicated in any new skin that grows. An injury that destroys the dermal papillae, however, will permanently obliterate the ridges.

So, the fingerprints after an injury that has left no scars will be likely the same as before, because the dermis has not been damaged. To prove this, one can ask "the officials" to take his/her fingerprints again...


Some chemotherapeutics can cause "hand-foot syndrome" with peeling of the epidermal layer of the skin and loss of fingerprints (Jama Oncology):

Within 8 weeks of treatment, severe quality loss of fingerprints was noticed in 9 patients treated with capecitabine and in 1 patient treated with the TKI sunitinib.

Severe fingerprint quality loss recovered completely within 2 to 4 weeks after treatment discontinuation in all 3 patients who were able to provide posttreatment fingerprints

The article does not specifically say if the restored fingerprints were the same as before, though.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.