Skin Problems: First Aid

* Make sure your turtle is not simply <A HREF="shed.htm">shedding</A>.

* For water turtles, keeping the turtle dry overnight (in a nice,

warm or heated box) is pretty much mandatory to help with any

skin problem.

* If your turtle seems to suffer from "extra dry skin", do not use any lotions,

creames, or pet store turtle skin cremes. The dry skin is often caused by some

skin disease, or by dietary problems, or a combination of the two. If there are

no leasons, review your turtle's diet and make sure it doesn't get too few or

too many vitamins. If there are sores and leasons, see below.

* For water turtles:

1) Change the water and add 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water.

2) Test the pH of the water (aquarium testkit); stores will often test water

for you.

pH that is too high/low can lead to skin problems.

Test for ammonia, too.

3) You may need to treat the water with sulfa used for fish diseases. Only

do this if there is no other way for you to thoroughly clean the tank.

Follow the instructions for use with fishtanks. House the turtle in clean,

temporary quarters while this is going on.

* For all turtles:

3) Thoroughly clean the enclosure. For box turtle, throw out the substrate

and replace. For water turtles, do a complete water change. If you are not

using substrate (which I recommend), wipe the tank with bleach solution.

4) You can try applying an antibacterial creme, especially if the

skin problem is limited to a couple of spots. If that doesn't help

within a few days, or if the problem gets worse, go to 5).

Silvadene creme works well and it's not oil-based. However, this has

to be prescribed by a veterinarian; it's not available over the counter.

5) See a veterinarian. Determining WHAT is causing the problem helps!

And the veterinarian will prescribe appropriate medication. Skin problems

can have many causes, and the treatment will depend on the cause.

Also, a skin problem might just be the surface symptom of a larger problem.

6) DO NOT use any pet shop turtle skin creams. Don't use them on healthy turtles

(they are uneccessary), and don't use them on skin problems (they are

useless in the best case).