Dermatitis Could Make Fingerprints Unreadable (Scientific American)
Of course, the study was performed not to elucidate ways by which criminals’ hands can help them avoid the long arm of the law. The real purpose was to determine if a lot of people might have problems with increasingly common biometric identification systems. If a thumb scanner must identify your print before you can enter your workplace, a skin condition could leave you out in the cold, perhaps literally, which is only going to make that chapped finger even less readable.
The growth of biometrics is spurring a growth of finger research.