Use it: When you have severe, cystic, inflammatory acne that has not responded to other therapies.
How it works: This oral medication destroys abnormal oil glands where acne and cysts form. Over a typical four- to seven-month course, oil production is normalized and breakouts occur less frequently. Isotretinoin was once sold under the name Accutane but is now called Sotret, Claravis, or Amnesteem (there is also a generic form).
Good to know: It can cause severe birth defects, and you will be required to participate in iPledge, a program approved by the FDA that commits you to using two forms of birth control and taking a doctor-administered pregnancy test in order to fill a prescription each month. You must wait at least three months after going off the drug before trying to get pregnant.