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Anatomy of Friction Ridge Skin

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Encyclopedia of Biometrics


Anatomy of Fingerprint; Palmprint anatomy


Friction ridge skin refers to the skin of the palms of the hands and fingers as well as the soles of the feet and toes. Friction ridge skin can be differentiated from the skin of the rest of the body by the presence of raised ridges, by epidermis that is thicker and structurally more complex, by increased sensory abilities, by the absence of hair, and by the absence of sebaceous glands. The presence of friction ridges enhances friction for skin used in grasping. Note that the term fingerprint refers to an impression left by the friction skin of a finger rather than the anatomical structure itself.


The palms of the hands and fingers as well as the soles of the feet and toes have skin that is distinctly different from the skin of the rest of the body. This skin is known as thick skin, volar skin, or hairless skin by anatomists, but is known as friction ridge skin in the biometric and forensic communities due to...

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Hicklin, R.A. (2009). Anatomy of Friction Ridge Skin. In: Li, S.Z., Jain, A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Biometrics. Springer, Boston, MA.

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