A growing intended or accidental exposure to nanoparticles asks for the elucidation of potential toxicity linked to the penetration of normal and lesional skin.
We studied the skin penetration of dye-tagged dendritic core–multishell (CMS) nanotransporters and of Nile red loaded CMS nanotransporters using fluorescence microscopy. Normal and stripped human skin ex vivo as well as normal reconstructed human skin and in vitro skin disease models served as test platforms. Nile red was delivered rapidly into the viable epidermis and dermis of normal skin, whereas the highly flexible CMS nanotransporters remained solely in the stratum corneum after 6 h but penetrated into deeper skin layers after 24 h exposure. Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy proved a stable dye-tag and revealed striking nanotransporter–skin interactions. The viable layers of stripped skin were penetrated more efficiently by dye-tagged CMS nanotransporters and the cargo compared to normal skin. Normal reconstructed human skin reflected the penetration of Nile red and CMS nanotransporters in human skin and both, the non-hyperkeratotic non-melanoma skin cancer and hyperkeratotic peeling skin disease models come along with altered absorption in the skin diseases.