Telluride Inside… and Out is proud to feature the Telluride Medical Center’s MEDICAL MOMENT, a weekly column that answers common medical questions in pop culture. Have a question for the doctors? Click here to send.

Dr. Paul Koelliker answers this week’s question:


Paul Koelliker, MD

Paul Koelliker, MD, board certified in Emergence Medicine

So, here is the scoop.

Abrasions are common skin injuries caused by friction.They can range in severity from very mild and superficial to deep and contaminated. The amount of pain associated with abrasions also varies with severity, area of affected skin, and depth.

Self Care

Cleanse the wound with soap and water being careful to remove any embedded debris.

Use over the counter antibiotic ointment to dress the wound and bandage appropriately.

If the wound is deep, heavily contaminated, contains embedded debris that cannot be removed, or has an associated laceration then a visit to a healthcare provider for extensive cleaning.


If your immunization for tetanus is greater than 10 years old for minor wounds or five years old for more major wounds, then a booster is needed. If you have been previously immunized for tetanus, then you have 72 hours to receive your booster.


In general, abrasions scab over. The scab will come off over time as new smaller scab forms. This process continues until the wound is healed.

Keeping the wound moist with antibiotic ointment will help prevent the scab from prematurely cracking and bleeding.  It is a good idea, however, to let the wound air dry in between dressing changes.

If you have been managing abrasions at home and notice increased pain, drainage of purulent material (pus), or expanding redness of the surrounding skin, a secondary infection may be present and the wound should be looked at by a provider.

Healing wounds can take as long as 18 months to reach their final appearance. During this time the tissue is sensitive to ultraviolet light. Wounds with scabs should be covered when outside in direct sunlight. Wounds that have healed (scars) should be coated with high spf sunscreen for the 18-month period to minimize scarring.

Editor’s note: The Telluride Medical Center is the only 24-hour emergency facility within 65 miles. You can choose your own medical provider visit with a specialist or take advantage of their Mountain Skin Care services. As a mountain town in a challenging, remote environment, a thriving medical center is vital to our community’s health.

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