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The top two layers of the epithelia, the layer of skin on the outside of the body, are the stratum corneum and the stratum lucidum. Both of these layers are metabolically inactive, in other words they are dead cells that do not manufacture anything. Since viruses rely on the manufacturing apparatus of their host cell to proliferate, how do viruses infect and penetrate these two layers?

This question pertains only to viruses that infect the body of the host through the epidermis. So, that would include viruses that cause warts, herpes viruses and viruses that infect the respiratory epithelia like cold viruses. If these different kinds of viruses penetrate epidermal defenses in different ways then that would be relevant to the answer.

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    $\begingroup$ This article might provide you some answers. $\endgroup$
    – Domen
    Oct 31, 2021 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ Viruses generally can't penetrate the stratum corneum and stratum lucidum - that's (partially) why we evolved tough skin. I could hold some virus in my hand and wouldn't get infected unless I had some sort of break in my skin like a scratch. Our skin is extraordinarily good at protecting us from the huge numbers of potentially pathogenic microbes we encounter on a daily basis. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Oct 31, 2021 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ The viruses cited are typically transmitted directly to blood, e.g., via microcracks during sexual intercourse. In general, viruses cannot infect through the skin, but rather through the mucous membranes in respiratory tract, digestive system or sexual organs. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2021 at 10:26

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Since viruses rely on the manufacturing apparatus of their host cell to proliferate, how do viruses infect and penetrate these two layers [stratum corneum and the stratum lucidum] ?

Who says they do penetrate them?

So, that would include viruses that cause warts, herpes viruses and viruses that infect the respiratory epithelia like cold viruses.

The respiratory epithelium doesn't have a stratum corneum nor a stratum lucidum. There are no "dead cells on top" of that epithelium.

If you're curious how the respiratory epithelium is protected (to some extent) on its outer surface, there are antibodies "lurking" in the mucus that covers the ciliated cells. These antibodies bind their target pathogens sometimes to each other in larger clusters, which in turn enables them to be trapped in the mucus mesh network. (https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/49/1/1601709)

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