How Being Teased About Vitiligo Inspired This Dermatologist’s Career

Dr. Icecreamwala

As early as kindergarten, board-certified dermatologist Devika Icecreamwala, MD, was fielding questions about skin. These days, patients ask for her advice, but her circumstances were different at age 5: Dr. Icecreamwala had been diagnosed with vitiligo and was teased by her peers for her condition.

“Basically, your skin loses pigment,” explains Dr. Icecreamwala. “It involved a lot of my face, my hands, my legs, and places that were really visible to people. Early on, I just felt very insecure in my own skin.” While there is no cure for vitiligo, a variety of treatments (and makeup) certainly helped Dr. Icecreamwala over the years. The experience inspired her decision to become a doctor — which would ultimately entail relocating all over the country.

After grade school, the Apple Valley native left California to complete a combined undergraduate and medical school program at the University of Missouri®, Kansas City. Upon graduating, she moved to New York to be with her now-husband Kinjal Icecreamwala, and spent her intern year in the Long Island Jewish Health System℠. After Dr. Icecreamwala’s stint in Detroit for a dermatology residency and pediatric dermatology fellowship at Henry Ford® Hospital, they moved to the Bay Area and she opened her practice. 

As an homage to her last name, Dr. Icecreamwala’s office includes ice cream-themed decor — and there’s talks about serving the frozen treat in the future. But, more importantly, the 30-year-old dermatologist is focused on having a welcoming space to educate her patients, eradicating their skin concerns, and personally trying treatments so she can speak about them from a first-hand perspective. After all, her ability to relate and her desire to help others is what motivated her to become a doctor in the first place.