Fingerprint Drug Screening Versus Oral Fluid Drug Screening

Fingerprint Drug Screening Versus Oral Fluid Drug Screening-A Comparison

Oral drug screening and fingerprint drug screening methods, detection windows, advantages and limitations.

Oral drug screening and fingerprint drug screening are two distinct methods used to detect the presence of drugs or their metabolites in an individual's system. While the accuracy of the two drug screening methods is virtually identical, they have different mechanisms, advantages, and limitations.

Here's a comparison of these two drug screening methods:

Fingerprint Drug Screening:

Method of Collection: Fingerprint drug screening involves analysing the sweat in a person's fingerprint. A small sample is collected by placing a person's finger on a special absorbent material. The fingerprint drug test result is then read using a specialist digital reader, that must be purchased before any tests can be done.

Detection Window: The detection window for fingerprint drug screening is up to 16 hours which is similar to that of oral fluid drug screening, usually covering recent drug use within 1-2 days.


  • Non-invasive: Like oral testing, fingerprint drug screening is non-invasive and does not require urine or blood samples.
  • Rapid Results: Results can be obtained relatively quickly.
  • Difficult to Cheat: It's challenging to adulterate or manipulate fingerprint samples.


  • Cost-fingerprint drug testing is significantly more expensive and requires the purchase of a digital reader to read the fingerprint drug test results. You will need to spend a large amount of money upfront before you can even conduct one drug test. 
  • Only a limited number of drugs can currently be detected on a fingerprint test, so it is not as comprehensive a drug screen as an oral fluid drug test.
  • Limited number of drug test panel combinations available, currently only 2 are available each screening for 4 drugs.
  • Limited usage: Fingerprint drug screening is not as commonly used as urine or oral fluid testing, so it may not be as readily available.
  • Laboratory confirmation is not widely available, and only available from one UK lab.
  • Sensitivity: Like other methods, its sensitivity to specific drugs may vary, and some common drugs may not be detectable through this method.
  • Alcohol can not currently be detected with a fingerprint drug test
  • Privacy concerns: Some individuals may have privacy concerns regarding the use of their fingerprints for drug testing.
  • Slightly shorter detection window: fingerprint drug screening detection window is up to 16 hours, so this method will miss some drug use when compared to oral fluid drug screening.
  • The primary challenge associated with the a finger print drug test appears to stem from the potential for false-positive results triggered by external factors such as drug traces on the skin from contaminated surfaces. Contamination can arise when the individual already has drug residue on their skin. This situation can occur if the alcohol rub fails to completely eliminate the residue before performing the test.

Oral Drug Screening:

Method of Collection: Oral drug screening involves collecting a saliva sample from the individual. This can be done by having the person swab the inside of their mouth with a special collection device. Sample collection is easy quick and can be directly observed.

Detection Window: Oral drug screening is typically effective for detecting recent drug use within the past 1-2 days, depending on the drug. It is not as effective for detecting long-term or historical drug use.


  • Non-invasive: Collecting a saliva sample is not considered invasive and can be done easily quickly and in most locations
  • Rapid Results: Results are often available within minutes, making it suitable for on-the-spot testing.
  • Difficult to cheat: It is much harder to adulterate or tamper with oral fluid samples compared to urine samples.
  • Saliva drug tests are significantly lower cost per test compared to fingerprint drug test equivalent, and no costly digital reader is required to read the result.
  • Wide range of drugs can be detected using an oral fluid drug test including alcohol.
  • Widely available-there is now a large range of oral fluid drug tests available with a range of sensitivities.
  • Laboratory confirmation tests for oral fluid drug screening are widely available from UK labs. 


  • Limited Detection Window: It may not detect drug use that occurred more than a few days before the test.
  • Sensitivity: Sensitivity to certain drugs may vary and some drugs may not be detectable through this method.

 In summary, both oral and fingerprint drug screening methods have their unique advantages and limitations. They are generally suitable for detecting recent drug use and are less invasive compared to urine or blood testing. The accuracy of both these types of drug screening is similar when compared to a laboratory test. The choice between these methods depends on factors such as the specific drugs being tested for, the detection window required, and practical considerations like your budget. Ultimately, the selection of a drug screening method should be based on the specific needs and goals of the testing program or situation.

We are among the leading suppliers of workplace drug test kits in the UK, offering a wide range of onsite workplace drug and alcohol test kits. Additionally, we provide UKAS accredited laboratory confirmation drug tests. These drug screening products are designed to assist UK employers in conducting drug and alcohol screening and substance abuse testing within the workplace.

If you need help find the best drug test for your needs, you can take our free drug test quiz

If you need any further assistance, our knowledgeable UK Drug Testing experts are here to assist you. Feel free to reach out to us via chat, email, or you can contact our customer service team during office hours at 01263 731 168 They are dedicated to helping you choose the most suitable drug tests for your workplace testing needs.

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