How to remove stuck shed from a leopard gecko

Sometimes, leopard gecko owners will be faced with their pet having a bad shed, and may need to intervene to help remove any pieces that are stuck on the gecko’s body.

A neglected, thin leopard gecko with stuck shed on its feet and eyes. Credit: @Scalyheartsrescue Instagram

It is important to remove any stuck pieces, because stuck shed can build up over time, especially in places like the eyes, toes and tail, leading to restricted bloodflow and the loss of toes, eyesight or tails.

However, it is important not to just rip off any stuck shed, you need to be gentle and ease it off, and you should never ever try to “help” your gecko get its skin off when it is clearly mid-shed.

Create a temporary gecko “sauna.”

Get a tupperware box, poke air holes in it, add damp moss/ paper towels and put your gecko in it with the lid on so it can’t get out.

Place the sauna over the top of a warm (but not hot) heat source – their heat mat inside the vivarium would be perfect.

Leave for 30 minutes and check on them and see if the skin is looser. Sometimes it will just come off on its own without your extra help. Sometimes you’ll need to leave longer than 30 minutes.

Put your gecko in a shallow warm bath.

This is good for geckos struggling with belly or foot shedding. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold, and make sure it is no deeper than belly-level.

This should help loosen skin along with some gentle rubbing. A damp cotton bud/q-tip can help ease off the skin, or you could try gently using your fingers and pinching the skin, letting your gecko snatch away its foot and hopefully pulling the skin with it.

Shedding aid by Zoo Med.

Zoomed Zoo Med Repti Shedding Aid, 64 ml

This had excellent reviews on Amazon so I gave it a try.

This worked really well for the rough skin on top of my gecko’s head, but it was very difficult to put on the skin under his eye because he just won’t let me touch there without turning away.

Other people rub this on their geckos prior to shedding (when the gecko turns white) and have had great results.

img_4508The best way to stop stuck shed is to prevent it in the first place, so always remember to check your humidity levels in your vivarium, and please PLEASE make sure you always have a moist hide for your leopard gecko!

Do you have any more tips and advice for helping with problem sheds? I would love to hear them! Comment below.


  1. Hi! I just got my first Leo a few weeks ago and a few days ago was his first shed. It went well, but it looks like the bottom eyelid still has some shed on it. I tried getting him into a sauna, but he’s so new he still doesn’t trust me and let me pick him up. I tried the q-tip thing, but he obviously hates it and tries to run away. What can I do with such a young Leo that isn’t trusting me yet?


    1. That’s really difficult – it’s probably quite traumatic for him having a q-tip close to his eye when he’s so young and not tame yet.
      Luckily it’s not around one of his toes, because if stuck shed is left there and then another shed gets stuck there, then it can be a problem.
      Are you able to handle your gecko at all out of its vivarium? If yes then maybe putting your thumb near the area and seeing if you can get your gecko to move his head in a way that brushes past your thumb.
      Otherwise, try and spend some time trying to tame him and getting used to being handled. You may find that the shed comes off in his next shed anyway (like I said under his eye isn’t the worst place luckily!) but if it doesn’t, maybe in a few weeks you’ll find it easier to remove the shed yourself.
      I realise how tricky this area is because it happened within the first few months of getting mine too!


  2. Hello! i have had my gecko for a bit now and he sheds a lot but it always builds up around the eyes and mouth and he is starting to get blind but he hates his face being touched. Should I bring him to the vet or is there any suggestions?


  3. Hello! I have a young leo who’s recently been having trouble with shedding her toes. I’ve tried baths, baths with paper towels, and baths with moss but they don’t seem to work and it stresses her out. I’ve tried keeping her wet hide wetter than usual hoping that would help since that’s where she typically hides for shedding, and that hasn’t worked. I’ve tried using my fingers or tongs to coax it off myself, but she rarely sits still long enough for me to get much. Is there anything you guys might suggest that I haven’t tried already? I really don’t want the poor gal to lose her toes, she’s only two 😦


  4. I have had my leopard gecko coming up 4 years … she always sheds quite well however the last few sheds I’ve noticed not all of her skin is coming off around her toes.

    Today when I checked on her I noticed she has a swollen toe I tried giving her a bath and massaging off the excess skin but no luck, as her toe is already swollen is it too late for this toe? What is the best thing to do?

    She seems very happy and she is still very colourful with a thick tail and very active.


    1. This is exactly what’s happening with my 4 year old female gecko too!
      It’s not too late if it’s swollen, just keep trying to get it off (my most recent post shows how I got it off my gecko’s toe).
      For me it seems that every shed she is struggling to get the skin off that toe now, so I think every month you’re going to need to check her and perhaps try to get it off so she doesn’t lose the toe all together.
      Sorry there’s no easy answer for this, I am also going through this!


  5. I am new to being a owner and I went on vacation and came home to a bad shed build up around his head and eyes and it as if he is blind now and can’t eat his food what should I do I’m worried much longer like this he will die


  6. Hi my leopard gecko has stuck shed around his nose and it won’t come off I’ve given him many baths but nothings working what would you recommend


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.