I have read somewhere that viruses and other microbes can not penetrate skin but what about sweat pores? Can viruses pass through these pores?

  • $\begingroup$ How would you expect that it would be determined that viruses cannot penetrate skin? Some theoretical method, performed by pipe-smoking tweed-suited academics at a blackboard, or by testing whether viruses can infect via skin? $\endgroup$
    – iayork
    Nov 18, 2016 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


'Pore' is a confusing term. Sweat is produced in sweat glands, and subsequently excreted through a duct, as indicated in the image below (sudoriferous ~).

In short, viruses cannot enter the body through these glands because the glands don't really open up into the body, but instead the inside of the sweat gland is lined with sweat-producing cells (fig 2 and 3).

A passive protection mechanism preventing infection is similar to the mechanism by which the bladder is guarded from infection through the urethra: even if some malignant agent were to enter the sweat duct, it is simply pushed out by the excreted sweat.

Sweat glands in skin

Figure one: Sweat glands in skin. Source: wikimedia commons.

Sweat gland slide
(source: uwa.edu.au)

Figure two: Slide of sweat gland. Tightly packed secretory cells dump sweat into the lumen through exocytosis (see fig 3). Source: University of Western Australia.

Merocrine exocytosis

Figure three: Exocytosis. The lining of the sweat gland contains cells producing sweat through exocytosis. Viruses and other pathogens cannot simply enter these cells, and also cannot 'slip in between' the cells. Source: wikimedia commons.

  • $\begingroup$ It would be great, if you can at least add the sources for the images. Additionally references for further reading would also be good. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Nov 18, 2016 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the feedback. I had the sources in figure alt-text, but this is much better. Will look at further reading later $\endgroup$
    – MBever
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:53

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