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Hair thinning, acne, result of low body fat???


I am a 25 year old college student who's been struggling with hair thinning for about a year now.  Initially when my hair thinning began I thought it was result of starting a new birth control pill and potentially an iron deficiency... After eliminating birth control pills, taking an iron supplement, hair and skin supplement, and a strong pre-natal vitamin for over 3 months, the problem still persisted. Although it seemed at times, my hair had stopped falling out, it was not at all recovering from the initial thinning, like my doctor said that it would after taking  the vitamins and eliminating birth control.

What I also did not consider at the time was my increased exercise habits. It should be known however, I have always been active, and never been overweight. If anything I have always maintained a very lean and athletic profile my whole life. In my earlier twenties I would say I did not follow a very healthy diet, crash dieting and the like. However  around this time I introduced weight lifting and circuit training into my routine, and ate more food and fueled my body more positively than I ever have in my entire life. ** (Point being, I was healthy physically, mentally, and eating right when this all started. My body fat was at a normal level, I was getting my body all of the nutrients necessary to recover and rejuvenate.) As such my body composition began to change relatively quickly. Around May of last year i decided to start training for a Bikini Competition. My training methods stayed relatively the same, primarily modifying my diet for competition. However, due to the fact my body composition is already very lean, I didn't have to go crazy intense as far as watching what I ate. I made sure to get the right amount of protein each day for my body to recover, ate carbs, and got plenty and plenty of veggies. I was hydrated constantly.

In September  started carb cycling (at the advice of someone I no longer will consult) and my body fat percentage dropped very quick. At this point I was about 4 weeks out from my competition and this peak came too soon and without a lot of warning. Around this time my hair thinned again dramatically. I also around this time started breaking out. After researching various types of acne online, the kind I was and am suffering from is hormone cystic acne along my cheek bone. I have never had acne or intense skin issues before. At first it was occasional, and it gradually got worse. About a month before my show I had begun researching the effects of DHT in women, and how low body fat percentages and competitors like myself suffer from hair loss and acne as a result of increased levels of DHT. I  began taking a DHT blocker  (along with my hair supps, and pre-natals...still..) and it seemed to stifle the hair loss for a bit and kept my acne somewhat under control. It wasn't an overall fix but it helped manage the problem a little. However about a week after my show my face erupted with cystic acne all over my cheeks. Literally out of no where. This is where the variables start to get sticky. My body fat was still very low, I had started introducing more of "normal person" diet, and for a week I didn't have my DHT blocker...

After the initial blowout I got back on DHT and reigned back in my diet a bit but it took 3 months for my skin to even BEGIN to calm down. No typical acne treatment has worked, the only thing that's provided some relief is tea tree oil. However it did slowly but surely start to ease up...until this last week. My hair however is still struggling profusely. I have tried multiple shampoos and conditioners to combat the thinning, as well as 'thickeners', and it seems like its getting out of control again...as does my skin.

I have been in to the doctor to draw labs twice, both times everything coming back "normal". NO thyroid problems,  normal CBC, I am not anemic, and with the exception of a slightly low vitamin B, there is nothing in the blood work that would indicate a reason behind this.  I am incredibly frustrated. My doctor has recommended i see a nutritionist, but I am skeptical of this due to the fact that I know my body isn't, at this point, being refused anything necessary for it to be healthy, I am tracking my macros and daily intakes to be sure of this, and it is still fluctuating and being a persistent issue. Insurance also comes into play at this point, because it is hard to argue hair loss and acne as valid means to cover costs, especially since my weight hasn't significantly dropped (at most 4-5lbs at my leanest, and it was gradual) or increased.

* I realize diet plays a role in skin health, but as someone who has literally NEVER had skin problems until this last year, nor lost hair like this until this year, and held a healthy diet for quite some time now, I am feeling unsatisfied, and at a loss. I do not want to deal with this for another year of trial and error.

I have researched PCOS. I don't have any excessive facial hair, however I did have an ovarian cyst burst about 9 weeks before my show in October.

Hopefully someone has some sort of direction with which to point me or alternative lens for which to dissect this problem as it is as alarming as it is frustrating!

Thank you!
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Avatar universal
I was also a fitness competitor and the excessive exercise and strict diet made my hair fall out like crazy.  No amount of supplements would help at all. It took me getting to a normal body fat percentage/weight to make the hair get better and come back in. If you are a female with too little bodyfat your estrogen levels will get far too low, and low estrogen will wreck havoc on your body and cause hair loss.  An estrogen patch or birth control pill would probably be most helpful,  and if your carbs are too low you should add back in a healthy amount. Also make sure your calories aren't too low,  with the exercise you do you probably need a MINIMUM of 1600/day, and let up on the cardio as much as you can. Weight training won't hurt you but the cardio causes excess cortisol.  Good luck!
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Avatar universal
I've been suffering with alopecia for years.  It began when I was 8 a single occasion connected to an emotional trauma.
The alopecia returned 6 years ago and is still troubling me.  My hair fell out entirely and grew back thankfully but I continue with fall out and bald patches.  The alopecia has been treated with cortisone injections, steroid creams amongst a variety of other meds including vitamin supplements.
Although I'm active I'm not involved in any daily exercise routine.  I'm a type 1 diabetic with a pump and count carbs continually. I'm 1.73 with a weight of between  50 - 54 kilos.  I've never been overweight but have been underweight.
Never connected my body fat or low carb diet or oestrogen to the alopecia but hearing your comments see that it could be a cause.  
I have found a dermatologist who has helped me a lot over the years, perhaps that would be a way forward for you for your hair loss and skin outbreak.
Hope this helped
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