I recently got over a nail-bed infection. Gosh who knew how painful a finger can get! Luckily I got through it without taking Antibiotics orally but I had to use antibiotic cream in the end after tea-tree oil and curd-soap baths failed to get rid of it completely.
This is what I have learned:
DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG WITH TREATMENT
If you feel it coming i.e painful area on your finger or the finger feels hot and swollen straight away try a finger bath by scarping a little bit of Curd-soap in warm water and holding the finger in it for about 15min - repeat often (I did it between 2-4times a day). Afterwards rub a little tea-tree oil on it (which you can use straight out the bottle). The softened skin lets it absorb more easily and it acts a natural disinfectant.
If different home remedies do not help, get antibiotic cream from the pharmacy (in Germany you have to have a prescription so either call or see a doctor first). Be patient once you start treatment. The pain and swelling gets better quickly but do not stop the cream before all the symptoms have gone.
How to use antibiotic cream:
I put a little bandage or plaster around it, and only had to put the cream on 2x a day - mornings and evenings. If you do not have anything to hand, simply put the cream on more frequently.
You can continue the curd soap finger baths before you put the cream on - again the softened skin will speed up the healing process.
If that does not do the trick it's time to see a doctor. Luckily mine was completely gone after about a week.
How I got it:
We went to this lovely farmers market where they had a stall where kids could make little sandstone animals with files and sandpaper. While holding the fish for one of the kids my finger was in the way and zip - there it was - bacteria got in etc ... so not the usual bad manicure. I should have washed my hands straight away with fresh water and soap but was stuck there alone with two kids having a blast - so I had to learn the hard way.