Whether or not a cure exists for Yellow Fungus seems to be a hotly debated topic online.
Some bearded dragon owners will tell you that there is no definitive cure for Yellow Fungus or Yellow Skin Disease, while others insist that if caught in the early stages and treated quickly and aggressively… you can cure YF.
However, one notion that both sides of the debate seem to agree on is the importance of treating and diagnosing Yellow Fungus in bearded dragons as soon as possible.
So, with this being said, your best bet at giving your bearded dragon a nice long life, is to know the signs of Yellow Fungus ahead of time, allowing for as early of a detection as possible.
If you’d like to learn the signs of Yellow Fungus as well as how to treat it and much more, simply keep reading OR use the Quick Navigation table below to be instantly taken to a specific topic.
What is Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons?
Before we get into talking about the signs, treatments, and causes of Yellow Fungus, let’s first discuss what exactly this awful infection is…
Yellow Fungus, which is more scientifically referred to as Chrysosporium Anamorph of Nanniziopsis vriesii (CANV), is an aggressive fungus infection that affects the superficial and deep tissue levels, and in more severe cases, can reach as far down as internal organs.
When a bearded dragon has Yellow Fungus, their scales become discolored and can break off revealing extremely sensitive ulcerated tissues.
The revealed tissues are often swollen and inflamed and extremely painful.
How Do Bearded Dragons get Yellow Fungus?
From the time of contraction to the first noticeable sign of Yellow Fungus, several weeks if not months can pass… which makes it tricky sometimes to pinpoint the exact cause of the infection.
This becomes especially tricky in the case of a new pet or a dragon that is extremely well cared for.
Read on to discover the most common causes responsible for a bearded dragon contracting Yellow Fungus.
Cause #1: Poor Husbandry Conditions
Conditions such as improper UVB exposure, low temperatures, and poor hygiene can lead to your bearded dragon’s immune system becoming extremely suppressed and weak.
Because of this, it is important to keep your dragon’s habitat up to par at all times, and also keep them nice and clean.
Practicing a quick once a week bath, disinfecting everything in their tank every few weeks, and making sure to supply them with enough UVB and the right temperatures can make all the difference!
Cause #2: Pathogen Exposure
If your bearded dragon comes in contact with the YF pathogen, they are completely susceptible to it and may become infected.
Common ways healthy dragons can encounter the pathogen include, but are not limited to…
- Being amongst infected dragons
- Being handled by someone who has handled an infected dragon
- Using tank accessories placed in around an infected dragon
Sensing a pattern here?
Essentially your dragon will only come in contact with the pathogen IF they are touched or touch something/someone that also touched the infected dragon. Makes sense, right?
This is why it is so important to house dragons separately and thoroughly wash your hands and clothes after handling one dragon and before handling another.
Also, if your dragon is on your bedding, couch, or anything else outside of their tank, try to wash and disinfect these surfaces as well if you plan on allowing your other bearded dragon to come in contact with them. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Yellow Fungus Bearded Dragon Prevention Measures
There are definitely some steps you can take to help keep your bearded dragon from contracting Yellow Fungus! Check out the suggestions below to get an idea of the preventative measures you can take to help prevent against Yellow Fungus.
Prevention Measure #1: Practice Good Husbandry
As aforementioned, it is good practice to get into the habit of regularly cleaning out and disinfecting your bearded dragon’s entire habitat using a Veterinary Grade Cleaner.
Remove all accessories and thoroughly wash and disinfect them, replace/disinfect substrate, and even spray down and wash the walls.
In addition to this, make sure you dragon is receiving adequate levels of UVB and has the right temperatures on both the cool and warm side of their tank.
Prevention Measure #2: Keep Your Dragon Clean
Some people will tell you that bathing a bearded dragon is completely pointless, while others will argue that regular bathing helps keep them clean and well hydrated.
You’ll have to decide for yourself where exactly you stand on this debate.
Now, if you do decide to bathe your bearded dragon, keep it to once a week tops (unless they’re shedding) and use warm water with extremely gentle baby soap.
Also, make sure the water doesn’t go above their shoulders and always be on standby to supervise. Baths should last no more than 20 minutes tops.
Prevention Measure #3: Separate Your Bearded Dragons
Because it is near impossible to detect Yellow Fungus upon contraction, you should always keep your bearded dragons separate.
In addition to the risk of sharing diseases, there are many other reasons bearded dragons should also not be housed together, even if from the same clutch.
The only instance in where you may be able to responsibly house your bearded dragons together would be in the instance of two similarly sized female bearded dragons.
You must NEVER house a male with another dragon.
Males will fight with one another and will pester females incessantly about mating.
It’s just not good and the repercussions can even be fatal.
Many owners will think because their bearded dragons got along as babies or were from the same clutch that they will like and enjoy each other’s company as adults. Not true.
Bearded dragons are solitary and meant to live alone.
Even housing babies together runs the risk of injuries because babies often bite one another and leave behind wounds… which can develop into Yellow Fungus.
Prevention Measure #4: Disinfect Your Tank and Any New Tank Accessories (if possible)
Some owners have reported their bearded dragons getting sick or developing Yellow Fungus after introducing new accessories into their habitats, such as hammocks or rocks.
Because of this, it is wise to take the extra time to wash and disinfect any new accessory before simply placing it into the habitat.
Unfortunately, some retailers are just irresponsible… but luckily for us, all it takes a quick disinfect to save our bearded dragons from such irresponsibility.
Is Yellow Fungus Contagious to Humans?
Yellow Fungus is primarily a reptile pathogen, which means it poses little to no threat to humans.
However, despite not being zoonotic (being able to spread from animals to humans) in nature, there have been a handful of reported instances of humans with extremely compromised immune systems contracting the pathogen.
Because of this, it is advised to take responsible hygienic precautions to protect yourself.
As such, always wash your hands after handling your bearded dragon, disinfect and wash any surfaces they come in contact with outside of their vivarium, wash your clothes in hot water if your dragon has touched them, etc.
Signs and Symptoms of Yellow Fungus in a Bearded Dragon
So, you want to be prepared and make sure you’re well versed on the warning signs of Yellow Fungus OR perhaps you’re concerned your little guy or gal may already be afflicted?
Either way, check out the symptoms and signs below to get an idea of what warrants concern.
If you notice any of these signs, you should take your dragon to a reptile vet ASAP.
With Yellow Fungus, the sooner you catch it, the better your chances are at treating it.
Yellow fungus will show up at some point on your dragon’s exterior, turning their scales most often yellow, but sometimes a brownish or greyish color as well.
Typically, the discoloration will show up in a small area and then begin to spread.
Also, overtime the scales may become crusty and dark as well.
If your bearded dragon is shedding and is leaving behind dull-looking scales that are brownish or greyish in color and look rough, this could be cause for concern.
Also, if your bearded dragon seems to be shedding all the time, yet has not gone through any recent growth spurt, this could also be due to an infection from Yellow Fungus.
Random Troubling Wounds
Does your dragon have a random wound on their body that just so happens to be surrounded by scales that are discolored and dull looking?
How bad off is the wound itself? Is it really swollen and/or leaking puss? If your pet has a wound like this then they very likely could have Yellow Fungus.
Restlessness and Strange Behavior
Bearded dragons that have Yellow Fungus are often times described as “restless”, and may also appear to have a poor appetite, and frustrated demeanor.
If your dragon appears to be refusing to eat and seems restless or frustrated, take them to the vet.
What to Look for in the Beginning Stages of Yellow Fungus
In dragons that have recently been infected, you can expect to see dry and crusty looking lesions on scales along with discoloration.
In addition to this, these trouble spots may be retained during sheds, which may become more frequent at this stage of the disease.
What to Look for in the Later Stages of Yellow Fungus
During a more advanced stage of Yellow Fungus, you will likely see some of the first affected areas turning black and beginning to essentially rot away.
If the fungus starts on limbs or the tail, it is possible for these to even fall off.
At this point, wounds may begin leaking a puss-like substance as well.
Lastly, it is likely that your dragon at this point is lethargic, not eating (or eating very little) and perhaps seemingly always grouchy (I mean, could you blame him/her?).
How to Treat Yellow Fungus in a Bearded Dragon
If you suspect your bearded dragon has Yellow Fungus (or any fungus really…) then you need to act fast!
Taking them to the vet should be priority #1 and you can read more about what to expect with that below.
If you can’t take them to the vet right away, then check out the below at home remedies you can do in the meantime!
Take Them to a Reptile Vet ASAP
In order to 100% know if your dragon is infected with Yellow Fungus or not, get them to a respectable reptile vet ASAP.
Once there, the vet will likely remove part of the affected area of their scales to run some tests on to confirm whether it is indeed Yellow Fungus or another fungus.
If the tests come back positive for Yellow Fungus, you can likely expect the vet to prescribe your bearded dragon Voriconizole or a similar antifungal agent that will work to kill the fungus.
However, it should be noted that the high level of yeast in Voriconizole can affect the health of your bearded dragon’s kidneys over time and such, you should be prepared to offer them supplements and plenty of water to keep their organs as healthy as possible.
Home Remedies for Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons
Don’t have money to head to the vet right away OR can’t make an appointment right away?
Try the remedies below to keep your bearded dragon’s Yellow Fungus in check while you wait to see the vet.
Betadine like this brand here won’t do anything to fight the fungus, but it will help keep your dragon squeaky clean and can help remove the shedding fungus.
However, it should be noted that frequent bathing can also help the fungus spread quicker, so try to only bathe your dragon every few days for just 5 to 10 minutes or so.
Also, make sure you thoroughly dry your dragon with a clean towel after every bath as lingering moisture will help the fungus spread more.
For the ratios, mix ¾ cup of betadine per every gallon of water.
A topical antifungal cream should be applied to your bearded dragon’s affected scales every day and only on dry skin.
Some people have claimed that betadine baths and Lamasil alone have cured their dragon of Yellow Fungus, while others who adopt this same treatment see no improvement in Yellow Fungus.
It is likely that every dragon is different and the effectiveness of Lamasil will vary on a case by case basis.
Also, how early the Yellow Fungus is caught will likely affect how effective Lamasil is at treating the fungus.
Raw Unpasteurized Honey
Although this may sound a little weird, raw unpasteurized honey is great for helping heal any wounds, especially those from fungal infections where the skin just sloughs off.
If you are having difficulty keeping the honey on your reptile, try applying it and then wrapping them in gauze to let the honey soak in for a few hours.
Can I Use an Antifungal Cream for My Bearded Dragon?
Yes! Many bearded dragon owners have had great results using Lamasil on their bearded dragons
. Simply apply it twice daily to the infected area, but make sure your dragon is completely dry first, so if they just had a bath gently towel dry them (and then throw the towel into the laundry of course!).
Yellow Fungus doesn’t have to be a death threat if you act swiftly and quickly.
Simply practicing good preventative care and knowing the early signs and symptoms can make all the difference in saving your bearded dragon’s life.