White Spots/Patches on the Skin of my Turtle?

Question: My turtle has white spots on his skin. Is this a fungus?

Answer: Maybe. Or it could be another type of skin infection.

If all you see are a few well-defined white spots, you can first try the "drying out" approach

  • Keep your turtle out of the water overnight in a warm (85F) box for at least a week.
  • If this helps, continue until improvement shows.
  • Then make sure he basks a lot.
  • Make sure he is exposed to natural sunlight for 1/2 hour a day.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water. Iodine free cooking salt is fine.
  • In addition, review your husbandry practices, in particular the water quality and the basking spot available to the turtle.

If drying out does not help

  • If there is no improvement, see a veterinarian.
  • Do not use antibiotic cremes, anti-fungal cremes, washes, etc. without consulting with a veterinarian. Using the wrong medication can make it worse. For a simple fungal skin infection, drying out is all that's necessary. Anything that does not respond to the "warm and dry" approach needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian.
  • If this is a box turtle, check the humidity of the enclosure. Keep him dryer. Change the substrate completely.
  • If there are many spots, or the whole body is covered, or the eyes are also whitish, your turtle needs to see a veterinarian.
  • If your turtle shows additional symptoms, like sluggishness or lack of appetite, you turtle needs to see a veterinarian.
  • If there are lesions, cracks, or bloody sores and scabs, take your turtle to a veterinarian immediately. There is a good chance the condition will require treatment with medication internally (for example antibiotics) in addition to drying out, cleaning, and prescription creams.

Recommended basking equipment