Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes inflamed patches of skin, which may be itchy or painful.
Psoriasis is generally considered mild when the symptoms affect no more than 5% of your body surface. For reference, the size of your palm is roughly equal to 1% of your body surface.
You’re most likely to develop psoriasis on your scalp, elbows, knees, or torso, but it may also affect other areas of your body. It may be considered more severe if it affects sensitive areas, such as your face, hands, or genitals.
Some people with psoriasis also develop nail or joint symptoms.
Read on to learn what mild psoriasis looks like.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 80–90% of people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. It’s typically considered mild if it affects about 3–5% of your body surface or less.
Plaque psoriasis causes raised, scaly patches of skin that may affect both sides of your body in a roughly symmetrical pattern. For example, you might develop plaques on both of your elbows or both of your knees.
If you have white skin, the plaques will appear pink or red with silvery-white scales. If you have brown or black skin, the plaques may look more purple, grayish, or dark brown.
Guttate psoriasis affects roughly 8% of people with psoriasis. It’s generally considered mild if it affects 3% of your body surface or less.
Guttate psoriasis causes small, raised lesions or bumps that may appear round or teardrop-shaped. These lesions are known as papules. They are sometimes scaly and may be surrounded by inflamed skin.
The papules may look pink or red on white skin. They may appear more purple, grayish, or dark brown on brown on black skin.
Pustular psoriasis affects about 3% of people with psoriasis. It’s generally considered mild if it affects about 3–5% of your body surface or less.
However, pustular psoriasis often affects larger areas of skin or particularly sensitive areas, such as your palms or the soles of your feet. Pustular psoriasis may be considered more severe if it affects sensitive areas, even if it only covers 3% of your body surface or less.
Pustular psoriasis causes small pus-filled bumps known as pustules. They may appear white or yellow. They may also be surrounded by inflamed skin, which may look pink, red, purple, grayish, or dark brown, depending on your skin tone.
Scalp psoriasis affects roughly half of people with psoriasis. It may affect your scalp and hairline, as well as skin on your forehead, back of your neck, or around your ears.
Mild scalp psoriasis typically causes fine scaling, which may look like dandruff or fine powder. The scales are often silver-white in color.
Nail psoriasis can cause changes in the color and texture of your fingernails or toenails. It’s generally considered mild if it affects only one or two nails, with no serious symptoms.
Nail psoriasis may cause the affected nails to appear yellow in color, particularly near the tips. It may cause small pits, oil spots, dents, or ridges in your nails or a crumbly nail texture.
It may also cause the affected nails to separate from the nail beds. You might notice small lines of blood under the affected nails.
Psoriatic arthritis affects roughly 30% of people with psoriasis. It’s more common in people with severe psoriasis, but it can also affect those with mild skin or nail symptoms. Some people develop psoriatic arthritis with no known history of skin or nail symptoms.
Psoriatic arthritis causes chronic joint inflammation. Common symptoms include joint swelling, stiffness, and pain. It can affect any joint in your body, including the joints in your spine.
Some people with psoriatic arthritis develop dactylitis, which causes entire fingers or toes to swell. This can give your fingers or toes a sausage-like appearance.
The condition can also cause enthesitis, or inflammation at sites where tendons attach to bone. This may cause swelling in your heel, the bottom of your foot, or areas where tendons attach to bone.
Mild psoriasis typically causes skin symptoms that affect no more than 3–5% of your body surface.
Some people with psoriasis also develop symptoms that affect their scalp, nails, or joints, or a combination of these.
If you have mild psoriasis symptoms on your skin, scalp, or nails, your doctor will likely prescribe topical therapy. For example, they may prescribe a medicated ointment, cream, or shampoo.
Some over-the-counter treatments may also help relieve mild psoriasis. These include products that contain low doses of corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone cream. Products that contain coal tar may also help relieve symptoms, although some people find coal tar irritating.
Applying non-medicated moisturizer to your skin and nails may also help reduce itching and discomfort.
Let your doctor know if your symptoms become more widespread or bothersome. You should also let them know if you develop any joint symptoms. They may adjust your treatment plan to include oral medication, injected medication, or other treatments.