Crested Gecko Skin Infection – Causes, Treatment And Prevention
If you are a Crested gecko owner, one of the health problems to look out for are skin infections. In most cases Crested gecko skin infection can be prevented through simply providing good husbandry. If left untreated skin infections can be fatal, lead to organ disease and septicaemia.
This article will help you establish the cause for your Crested gecko skin condition and what’s the best course of treatment by delving into the following topics:
- Healthy Crested gecko
- Crested gecko skin infection symptoms
- Crested gecko skin infection causes and treatment
Healthy Crested Gecko
A healthy Crested gecko has smooth skin without any blistering. In addition, their eyes are clear and bright with no kinks in the spine or tail. Although, their skin might appear prickly, it’s actually quite soft, with a suede feel to it.
If you notice any unusual skin abrasions or blistering, you might be dealing with Crested gecko skin infection. It’s important to know what the symptoms of skin infection look like, so you can act quickly and help your pet.
Crested Gecko Skin Infection – Symptoms
If you suspect Crested gecko skin infection, look out for any of the following symptoms:
- Abscesses under the skin filled with pus
- Pockets filled with fluid, a sign of blister disease
- Bumps, sores or abrasions on skin
If you see any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s vert likely that your Crested gecko is suffering with some kind of skin infection.
If left untreated, skin infections can result in permanent damage and can even spread to the bloodstream and be fatal. To find the correct treatment, first you must establish the cause of the skin infection.
Crested Gecko Skin Infection – Causes
Most of Crested gecko skin infections are preventable by providing your gecko with good husbandry. However, if your gecko ends up with a skin infection anyway, it’s important to find the cause.
By finding the root of the problem, you can choose suitable treatment and ensure the skin infection doesn’t come back.
With that said, the following are the most common causes for Crested gecko skin infection:
- Incomplete shedding
- Fungus or bacteria
- Bacterial dermatitis
- Environmental such as excessively high humidity
The most common cause for Crested gecko skin infection is incomplete shed. If the living conditions in the gecko’s tank are too dry, they won’t be able to completely shed off their old skin.
If the shed is incomplete, the old skin will get stuck on your gecko’s eyes, limbs, toes and tail. The parts of the gecko with stuck shed can then become constricted and the blood supply blocked. If left untreated, it can result in your gecko losing a limb or part of their tail due to necrosis.
To treat Crested gecko skin infection such as stuck shed, first you’ll need to ensure that the living conditions are up to a good standard. This includes temperature (72°F to 75°F) and humidity levels (60% during the day and 80% during the night).
However, the actual treatment of skin infection due to stuck shed is hydrating your Crested gecko quickly. You can do this by following these steps:
- Dab a q-tip in olive oil and gently rub it around the edges (around the lid margins) of the gecko’s eye
- Highly diluted electrolyte solutionssuch as sports drinks, Pedialyte or Ricelyte can help restore fluids
- Pureed food mixed with water. You can feed your gecko pureed fruit diluted with water
You can learn how to treat Crested gecko stuck shed in much more detail here Dehydrated Crested Gecko: Crested Gecko Dehydration Signs, Cause, Fixes
If none of the above solutions help, you’ll need to take your Crested gecko to the vet for antibiotic treatment.
If left untreated, stuck shed can result not only in loss of limbs but also – skin rot, fungal skin infections and eye infections. Read here to learn about eye infections in Crested geckos How To Treat Crested Gecko Eye Infection And Other Eye Problems
Fungus And Bacteria
The cause for many Crested gecko skin infections are fungus or bacteria. This is often the result of improper living conditions such as too high humidity or dirty tank. Furthermore, a scratch or cut on the skin will increase the gecko’s risk of infection when living in such conditions.
You can treat some Crested gecko skin infections at home by doing the following:
- Gently scrubbing the infected area with a dilution of chlorhexidine solution or povidone-iodine
- Applying topical antibiotic ointment to the area twice daily
If the skin infection doesn’t improve but the gecko appears lively and happy, then you may be dealing with a fungal infection. Either way, it’s always best to take your gecko to the vet who will drain any ulcers, cut away seriously infected areas, and prescribe a course of antibiotics.
In extreme cases, when the skin infection has progressed into lesions, the vet will have to surgically clean and remove any dead tissues. This procedure is done under aesthetic and followed by antibiotic treatment.
Another cause for Crested gecko skin infection is bacterial dermatitis. This disease is the superficial or deeper infection of the skin with bacterial organisms. Bacterial dermatitis is also known as belly rot, septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease and blister disease.
If you suspect Crested gecko skin infection such as bacterial dermatitis is essential to take them to the vet for the correct diagnosis. This is important because bacterial skin infection, fungal skin infection and burn lesions in Crested geckos look very similar.
Usually, the cause for bacterial dermatitis in Crested geckos is the result of traumatic abrasion to the skin which allows bacteria to enter. Another cause is poor husbandry such as excessive humidity, dirty conditions, inadequate substrate, temperatures, or a combination of the listed problems.
It’s important to note that if you have more than one geckos living together, they can pass on the skin infection to one another. However, the good news is that it’s not contagious to humans.
To get the correct and effective treatment, first you should get the right diagnosis. However, the symptoms for bacterial dermatitis include small red lesions or blister-like ulcers on their skin. These symptoms are very similar to the ones for burns and fungal infections. Therefore, it’s important to take your gecko to the vet for the right diagnosis.
At later stages, symptoms for bacterial dermatitis can present as small blisters rupturing into open wounds. In some extreme cases, the lesions can blend into a large wound and get so deep that the muscle of the gecko can be exposed.
Crested gecko skin infections such as bacterial dermatitis should never be left untreated. This type of skin infection won’t get better on its own and it will only get worse with time if ignored.
The things you can do at home to help your gecko’s health is improve their living conditions and ensure they are hydrated. To do that, follow these steps:
- Deep clean their enclosure
- Ensure you have cleaning schedule of daily spot clean and monthly deep clean
- Throw away objects from their tank that looks like it has mold growing on it
- Ensure the temperature and humidity levels are correct
- Check for any exposed sharp edges or wiring that might hurt the gecko
On the other hand, to treat the actual skin infection, the vet will surgically clean up any deep lesions and remove dead tissue under anaesthesia
In addition, topical antibiotics will be prescribed such as silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene). If the gecko is highly dehydrated, then the vet will administer fluids by injection.
There are many different parasites that can affect your gecko and cause Crested gecko skin infection as a result. Common parasites found in Crested geckos include acariasis, ticks, larval ascarids or neoplasms such as fibrosarcoma, melanoma. All of the mentioned parasites can affect the skin.
The most common parasite in Crested geckos is Entamoeba. This parasite is an amoeba that presents with symptoms of dramatic weight loss, lethargy and death. On the other hand, Pinworm (nematodes) are not fatal but a heavy load in your gecko will cause problems.
And finally, Cryptosporidium is very uncommon in Crested geckos. However, if contracted it’s fatal in most cases. The best outcome in Cryptosporidium infection is getting the disease under control with medication but your gecko will always be contagious.
If you suspect that your Crested gecko skin infection is caused by parasites, keep an eye for any of the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Vomiting or regurgitation
- Watery and foul-smelling poop
To treat Crested gecko skin infection caused by parasites, your vet first needs to determine which parasites are living inside your gecko. This is done by analyzing a sample of their poop.
The first thing that needs to be treated is the actual problem (parasite infestation) so it doesn’t reoccur. This is done by a course of antiparasitic medication or antibiotics. Treating the gecko is as important as treating their enclosure. This is to ensure all parasites are removed including any eggs that have been laid.
Alongside treating the parasite infestation, the vet will prescribe topical antibiotic ointment to treat the skin infection.
Many Crested gecko skin infection are caused by various infectious and non-infectious agents. In the case of non-infectious agents, Crested gecko skin infections are caused by environmental factors such as:
- Burns from heat sources
- Unhygienic conditions
- Excessive humidity and moisture
- Too cold environment temperatures
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Inappropriate nutrition
- Overcrowding resulting in injuries from other animals
All of the above can result in Crested gecko skin infection or are often a predisposing factor.
The treatment for Crested gecko skin infection caused by environmental factors is improving your gecko’s living conditions by doing the following:
- Correct substrate – some substrates such as the coco fiber can hold a lot of water and result in excessive humidity. On the other hand, substrate such as cedar may result in respiratory symptoms or develop skin lesions
- Using the correct humidity gauge – Analog (dial) ones are extremely inaccurate. Therefore, it’s recommended to use digital. Very wet environment can result in your gecko’s skin becoming inflamed and red. Furthermore, the skin can even slough off and become infected
- Remove any heat rocks that can cause possible burns
Crested Gecko Skin Infection – Prevention
Most Crested gecko skin infection cases are 100% preventable by providing your gecko with good husbandry.
Preventive measures are equally as important when Crested gecko has already suffered with a skin infection. This is to ensure that the root of the problem has been identified and removed form their environment to avoid the skin infection from returning.
Follow these steps to ensure your Crested gecko is safe from future skin infections:
- Cleanliness. This is probably the most important step. To ensure clean environment a daily spot cleaning of the enclosure is recommended followed by a minimum of once a month deep clean. This includes removal of the gecko, all decorations and bedding. Then, you need to spray the enclosure and its walls with a reptile friendly disinfectant. Once the spray has been left on the surfaces for 30 seconds, wipe it off with a paper towel. Repeat the process at least twice to ensure all waste has been removed
- Safe enclosure. Ensure there are only smooth edges in your gecko’s tank. No exposed wires or sharp objects
- Correct substrate. Ensure that the substrate does not get waterlogged as this can create a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause Crested gecko skin infection
- Correct temperature and humidity levels. Ensure temperature maintains at 72°F to 75°F and humidity is kept at 60% during day and 80% during night.
- Cool spot. Ensure your gecko has a cool spot in the enclosure where it can cool off if needed
- Misting is what maintains the humidity in your gecko’s enclosure. Mist twice per day – light one in the morning and stronger in the evening. Use a hygrometer to track the humidity levels. The enclosure should dry out in between misting
- Water sources. Ensure your gecko has a water bowl that is always full with water and it’s easily accessible by your gecko. In the wild, Crested geckos drink rain water directly from the plants. Therefore, including water catching decorations can help keep them hydrated
- Diet. A well-balanced and nutritious diet is essential to your gecko’s health. Recommended is a staple diet such as Repashy or Pangea with an occasional treat of dusted insects and healthy fruit purees. If you’re worried about dehydration, add more water in the powder
- Minerals and Vitamins. Your Crested gecko can get the minerals and vitamins they need either from their staple diet, by feeding them dusted insects or give them minerals and vitamin as supplements
- Bathing. It’s recommended to bathe your gecko in lukewarm water. Not only do geckos enjoy bathing but this is also a great way to bond with them and add more moisture to their body
- Use safe UVB lights. If you want to include UVB light to your gecko’s enclosure, you must ensure the light is not too powerful, that is not consistently switched on and it doesn’t shine directly at your gecko’s eyes. Ideally, your Crested gecko’s tank should be exposed to natural light instead
In this article we looked at the causes Crested gecko skin infection from different bacterial and fungus infections to parasites and environmental factors.
If your Crested gecko is suffering with some type of skin infection, the first thing to do is get the right diagnosis. Many Crested gecko skin infections have similar symptoms. Therefore, it’s always best practice to take your gecko to the vet.
The vet will take into consideration all the factors such as the severity of the skin infection and the type of condition before prescribing the medicine such as antibiotic, topics, ointments, or other medication.
Alongside any treatment, you’ll be advised to revisit your care routine and to ensure that you have all the right preventive measures in place.
Most skin infections are preventable by providing your gecko with good husbandry and that way you’ll be avoiding expensive trips to the vet. By providing your Crested gecko with a well-balanced diet, clean and safe enclosure, you’ll be ensuring that they won’t develop any skin infections or if they already had one, it won’t come back.
Related Topics Q&A
My Crested Gecko Has Black Spots?
If you notice black spots appearing on your Crested gecko skin, don’t worry! In most cases those spots are not a symptom of skin infection but a sign that your gecko is preparing to shed.
Those spots are also known as dal spots and more will show up with each shed. Even if your gecko didn’t have the spots in their first few sheds, they can appear after awhile and is nothing to worry about.