Chandler among nation’s worst for skin health - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler among nation’s worst for skin health

February 3rd, 2023 SanTan Sun News
Chandler among nation’s worst for skin health

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

Valley of the Sun residents need water to survive. However, that combination of sun and water is doing a number on their skin.

HouseFresh, an indoor air quality company, released a survey of the worst cities in the U.S. for skin care. Chandler ranked third worst.

Leading the way was Scottsdale and five Valley cities ranked in the dubious top 10.

Experts are blaming the water and sun.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, OK?,” said Valley plastic surgeon Dr. Farhan Taghizadeh. “The water is only maybe 10-to-20% of the problem. The majority of the problem is the high UV (ultraviolet) index.

“And the way that the sun hits the skin in this Valley, and that’s a big component of it. The failure to protect the skin against the sun … is the number one issue that we see here.”

The Valley got negative marks for the high amount of “hard” water people use to drink, shower and wash clothes with.

So what is hard water?

“Hard water is caused from water naturally picking up minerals, like calcium and magnesium, along its journey to the drinking water treatment plants,” said Chris Connor, utility regulatory affairs senior manager for the City of Chandler.

“Because the surface water that the Valley cities use travels hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, it gives the water ample opportunity to pick up minerals along the way. Groundwater can also pick up minerals from the rock formations in the aquifer.”

Those minerals in the water can cause problems.

“When hard water is used for showering and bathing, the minerals can react with soap and body wash to form a film on the skin called soap scum,” said John Schaff, a dermatologist in Ahwatukee. “This can lead to dry, itchy skin, as well as eczema and acne.”

So what can residents do about it? Schaff said getting a water softener that removes those minerals from the water is a good first step.

He also suggested buying a shower filter that removes minerals and chlorine from the water and using soap and body wash, specifically formulated for use with hard water. Also, use a moisturizer to help hydrate and smooth itchy skin.”

However, Taghizadeh said people should be careful about the water softening system they buy.

“This is my own assessment,” he said. “Traditional water softeners are not adequate for the type of water that we have here. And there are advanced systems that will remove more of the harsher elements in the water to help improve the tone and texture of the skin.”

Hard water is only about a fifth of the problem. Pollution also plays a role, Taghizadeh said.

But the biggest culprit is the excessive sunshine the Valley gets.

“So there’s two different components of sunlight, there’s UVB and UVA,” Taghizadeh said. “The UVB does more of the surface damage. That’s where people get the redness they get, the sunburn and some of that, but it’s the UVA that actually goes deep into the skin and causes damage to the DNA.”

It can lead to skin cancer.

It also makes people look older because the sunlight does significant damage to the cells that make collagen, which is a protein in skin.

He said skin begins to look weathered because the collagen is not being replaced.

“So you have pollution, you have sunlight, and then you have the water as sort of the three components that really mandate that people invest more in their skin,” Taghizadeh said.

“And unfortunately, a lot of people don’t. And that’s why Phoenix, and especially this part of the Southwest, tends to have very poor scores as it relates to skin care.”