Oct 03 2010

Fingerprint White Lines and Gluten

Published by at 6:46 pm
Under Diet and Nutrition | Phenotypic Plasticity


lthough almost everyone knows that fingerprint ridge patterns remain constant and unchanging throughout life (which is why they are so useful to law enforcement) even professionals involved in dermatoglyphics research are often unaware of the changeable nature of the actual height of the ridges themselves. There are a series of surprising correlations between changes to the height of the ridge pattern and links to gluten intolerance found in diseases such as celiac and to certain sensitivities to proteins in the diet called lectins.

Ridge height appears to be linked to many of the same cell processes that control glycosylation in the gut. Proper ridge height equates with a patent digestive track, while a worn appearance may signal digestive problems. Known as ridge hypoplasia, this is a situation in which the fingerprint ridges are reduced in height, giving them a “worn-off” appearance. These areas of worn off ridges are also covered with an unusual number of fine secondary creases that become visible, producing what are called “white lines.” (1)

Normal and low ridge height

White lines and celiac disease

Typically, the number of white lines increases with age and with subsequent deterioration of gut integrity. Research dating back to the early 1970’s has linked the appearance of white lines to adults who suffer with celiac disease. (2-6) Ridge height is the only aspect of fingerprints that can actually change with health status. Most interestingly, these white lines often improve with the maintenance of a gluten free diet, and researchers suggest that improvements to ridge height and disappearance of white lines could be used as an indicator of the patient’s response to diet therapy, although complete improvement of the fingerprints could often take as long as two years.

Ridge height of a 54-year-old man with celiac disease

At the left is a series of fingerprint from the right little finger of a 54-year-old man with celiac disease. Left to right: A newly-diagnosed showing almost complete ridge atrophy. Middle: After one-month treatment with gluten free diet. Shows partial ridge atrophy with appearance of white lines. Right: After 11 months on a gluten free diet prints show an almost complete regeneration of the dermal ridges, with disappearance of most white lines. (2)

There is no widespread agreement about the frequency of white lines in the general population. The most extensive study indicated that they are found in the fingerprints of 11-13% of the population, although the study used police records and so would have been made up predominantly of males. (6) Other figures, with broader subject bases, seem to indicate that they can be seen in about 22-30% of all northern Europeans. White lines appear to be more common on the left hand and more commonly on the third and fourth digits. (7-8)

  1. D’Adamo PJ. ‘Dermatoglyphics’ in: Fundamentals of Generative Medicine, Volume I. 2010. Drum Hill Books, Wilton CT USA
  2. Schauman and Alter, Dermatoglyphics in Medical Disorders, Springer Verlag. New York- Heidelberg. 1976
  3. Mylotte M, Egan-Mitchell B, Fottrell PF, McNicholl B, McCarthy CF. Fingerprints in patients with coeliac disease and their relatives. Br Med J. 1972 Oct 21;4(5833):144-6
  4. David TJ, Ajdukiewicz AB, Read AE. Dermal and epidermal ridge atrophy in celiac sprue. Gastroenterology. 1973 Apr;64(4):539-44
  5. David TJ, Ajdukiewicz AB, Read AE. Fingerprint changes in coeliac disease. Br Med J. 1970 Dec 5;4(5735):594-6.
  6. Cherill FA. Fingerprints and disease. Nature 166: 581. 1950
  7. Wendt GG. Kranheit in “weisse Linien” der fingerliesten. Artzl. Forsch. 6. 227; 1952 (referenced in 2)
  8. Wendt GG. Uber weisse im abdruck der menschlichen Fingerbeere. Homo. 6. 180; 1955 (referenced in 2)

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Fingerprint White Lines and Gluten”

  1. Andrea says:

    Thanks, for all that information. I learn something every time I read one of your blogs and find that I can apply it to my practice.

  2. Mark says:

    Yes indeed Peter, your research and insights are valued and much appreciated. Thank you for sharing so freely and frequently.

  3. Very interesting article. Thank you for sharing this.

    I keep learning new things from you. I enjoy your newsletter and blog.

  4. Gillian says:

    Thanks for this information, Peter.

    I wonder if the right/left difference is similar to the right/left differences in Mien Shiang (right side of face is outer, public self and left side is inner, private self).

  5. Dierk says:

    Very interesting stuff, indeed.

    What if the lines run from top to bottom instead? Does this also show something or does it simply indicate that I should drink more water?

  6. Kathryn says:

    It is interesting that it is Coeliac – any idea if other diseases are indicated on the fingertips? Would it make any difference being left or right handed?

  7. Debby says:

    I am researching this due to yet another failed attempt to get fingerprinted for a job. I have not been diagnosed with celiac but with pancreatic insufficiency, with a history of years of digestive problems. This information has been very helpful. Since the ridges improve with proper care, the continuing lack of printable ridges would seem to indicate that I am not adequately caring for my problem, or there may be another undiagnosed problem. Thanks so much for the helpful information.

  8. Deborah Garber says:

    I am a 54 year old health conscious woman. I fingerprinted myself the other day and found white lines and very low ridges through all my fingers. I have never been diagnosed as a celiac, but have had digestive problems for most of my life in the form of gas, bloating, diarrhea and stomach pain. I found proper food combining helpful as well as taking probiotics and digestive enzymes and avoiding legumes (even though I am type A) and vegetables like cabbage, eggplant, and peppers. I never felt unwell after eating bread, pasta, or other wheat products, which i used to eat a lot of! I now only eat spelt, rye or oat flour bread, spelt pasta (very occasionally), ryevita, rice (basmati), and have started eating tofu and drinking soy milk, which to my surprise I am not reacting badly to at all (used to upset me). I have eliminated dairy from my diet. I also have suffered from periodic eczema and seasonal hay fever for many years, as well as freezing sweaty feet that develop chilblains every winter and swell in the summer heat. Over the last 6 months I developed a dreadful rash on most of my body and have been trying various diets including gluten and dairy free, but I was still eating many of the “avoid” foods for my blood type. I hope I can still eat the low gluten grains, because I do love bread… Many thanks for your amazing books, website, and facebook page. I am now following your diet and taking the blood type supplements. I have already seen a great improvement in the eczema (slowly disappearing from most of my body) and my digestion has been improving too.

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