Published on February 18, 2021
AHMEDABAD: If you value your fingerprints, don’t overdo your sanitiser. Nehal Mistry, a bank professional, learnt this the hard way when the office biometric machine for attendance failed to recognize her fingerprints.
The Bopal resident used to sanitize her hands at least 6-7 times a day. She said, “Even my home security system could not read my fingerprints. I was already receiving treatment for a skin problem. So, my dermatologist asked me to reduce the use of alcohol-based sanitizer and shift to soap-based cleaning. She also prescribed a few ointments. It worked, and I got my fingerprints back.”
She’s not alone in the ordeal. Experts from the city are reporting cases where sanitizers are ‘wiping off ’ fingerprints along with the Covid-19 viruses. Experts blamed the nature of alcohol for the phenomenon. The condition is temporary, but it can happen to people using sanitizers excessively or not using moisturizers enough, they added.
Dermatologist Anshul Warman said that the issue is reported frequently now that several offices have resumed biometric attendance postpandemic.
‘3-4% had fingerprint issues’
Due to use of sanitizers and other hand rubs, there is abrasion of the upper layer (epidermis). The fingerprints are formed due to the ridges in this layer. The abrasions change it and a clear image is not formed,” Dermatologist Anshul Warman said, adding that edema (swelling) and contact dermatitis are also reasons that are affecting the fingerprint pattern.
“About 3-4% of our staff members have complained of non-registration of their fingerprints for biometric attendance,” said Dr Pranay Shah, dean of B J Medical College. “We have devised other methods to record the attendance.”
But it’s not just about attendance at workplaces – a large segment of the population is dependent on their biometrics to get their ration. Non-match of their fingerprints at the fair price shop can jeopardize this. In fact, Lakshmi Raval, 75, a resident of Jashodanagar, was sent back not once or twice but three times in the past six months due to the ‘error’.
“We have already made representation to the officials regarding the issue. The problem arose just 6-7 months ago,” said her nephew Yatin.
The issue is however not very common, assure experts. Dr Tarul Suthar, a city-based dermatologist, said that the issue with fingerprints is reported more in those with an existing history of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). “Frequent use of sanitizers coupled with other skin issues can increase peeling of epidermis,” she said.
Jaimin Barot, a healthcare worker contractor, said that he along with some of his staff members have faced the issue. “In some cases, the machine accepts the reading after 3-4attempts, whereas in other cases, it simply does not get registered. The issue affects healthcare workers a bit more due to frequent use of hand rub,” he said.