A woman burning a limpia for Mal deo Ojo cleansing
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What are the Symptoms of Mal de Ojo? Common Signs and Treatments

Interaction is a key to our existence. Most of us interact with hundreds, if not thousands, of people. More recently, these interactions have changed. Not all the people you exchange glances with can bring good fortune. Often, they bring misfortune. Before you know it, you’re plagued with the symptoms of Mal de Ojo without any clue on how to treat it.

This article will dive deeper into the different symptoms in children and adults. We will also cover where Mal de Ojo originates from and the mysteries surrounding it.

But, before that, let’s first dissect what Mal de Ojo is.

Mal de Ojo is a folklore illness that afflicts people giving an admiring look towards a child. This action can make children vulnerable and weak.

The belief is that a stare can be enough to weaken the child. This makes them sickly, vulnerable to bad luck, or worse, attract death. In children, the traditional understanding is that Mal de Ojo is unintentional.;

Mal de Ojo is not limited to infants and children. They can also affect adults. Unlike children, the stare is often malicious. This evil intention can be born out of jealousy, envy, or insecurity. All these emotions could harm another person's good fortune.

The belief in Mal de Ojo existed for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, tracing back to 3000 BC, referred to it as the Eye of Horus From Egypt, this belief traveled to Ancient Mesopotamia in 1500 BC and reached Greece and Rome in 700 BC and 500 BC, respectively.

The evil eye belief remained with the Hispanic people during the Roman occupation in 220 BC.

In general, the evil eye falls under different categories:

  • The unconscious evil eye that unintentional harm without the knowledge of the person
  • A malicious stare born out of insecurity, envy, greed, and jealousy
  • The unseen evil eye, which is regarded as the most dangerous of all

Mal de Ojo symptoms in adults

Mal de Ojo is a gaze believed to bring harm to something or someone. The belief is this harm can be in the form of a minor misfortune or a more significant illness, injury, and even death.

According to an expert, a target person’s “good fortune, good health, or good looks, can invite an attack by someone with an evil eye.”

When this happens, common Mal de Ojo symptoms in adults include appetite loss, hiccups, nausea and vomiting, and fever.
Other symptoms in adults can manifest in the following maladies:

This sleep disorder causes a person to experience trouble falling and staying asleep. Some people report insomnia symptoms to come and go. The symptoms can depend on their present physical and psychological condition.

Symptoms can be short-term, lasting for a night to a few weeks. For chronic insomnia, symptoms may be present for three nights and last for three months or more.


People afflicted with Mal de Ojo can also experience unexplainable fatigue. Some report extreme tiredness. Often, even after having long hours of sleep and should feel well-rested. 


Depression is a mental health condition affecting people globally. In Hispanic culture, some elements contribute to the symptoms of depression.

Hispanics associate “ataque de nervios” to describe any intense emotion as a result of Mal de Ojo.

Most of these symptoms are also medically attributed to other diseases. So, it’s not surprising that some non-believers will not think of the evil eye curse. This can cause the victim to succumb to the malady.

Mal de Ojo symptoms in babies

In Hispanic culture, a sick child does not always mean a medical condition. The belief is that when a child gets diarrhea, fever, or restlessness, it means someone may have inadvertently caused them harm.

Doctors can misdiagnose because they share similar symptoms with other diseases.

What symptoms does el Mal de Ojo share with other illnesses?

Here are some of the most common signs in babies:

Incessant crying

Young children and infants may feel restless and resort to incessant crying. This happens when another person admires or coos at them without blessing them by marking a cross on their forehead.

Babies get irritable. Since they can’t communicate their emotions yet, they will express them via crying.

Those unaware of Mal de Ojo may associate this with a child wanting to sleep. But, babies with Mal de Ojo can also suffer from sleeplessness. Eventually, this can cause frustration for parents and caregivers.

Some believe that children will also cry non-stop because of fright or panic. It may be because someone might have frightened them with a stare, causing them to become restless.


Another common symptom is diarrhea where babies get a green bowel. Some mistakenly attribute it to breastmilk, making them discontinue it. In the end, this causes more harm to the child. 

Sudden Fever

Babies with Mal de Ojo can also have symptoms of fever. Often, the fever does not have a specific cause and appears suddenly. In some cases, the fever will subside with modern-day medications, but they will eventually come back unless appropriate treatment is given.

Mal de Ojo treatment

It’s important to know how to protect yourself from debilitating Mal de Ojo symptoms in adult relationships since they can negatively impact your life.

Before discussing different Mal de Ojo treatment options, remember that these are all based on traditional beliefs and should not be taken as medical advice. If any of your loved ones are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned, it’s best to bring them to the doctor for a medical consultation.

Most Mal de Ojo cures vary by culture. Here’s how different cultures dealt with this malady throughout history:


According to Mexican belief, an effective Mal de Ojo treatment uses an umbilical cord and gently rubs it on the eye sockets. If you’re not familiar, Mexicans still keep their newborn’s umbilical cord stump even after years.


In Spain, protection from the evil eye varies by region. According to Spanish tradition in Murcia, an effective Mal de Ojo cure is by giving those afflicted with Mal de Ojo a protection amulet in the form of Cruz de Caravaca. Cruz de Caravaca is a double-cross used by the Jesuit priests and crusaders of the Knights Templar.

An evil eye necklace, type of protection amulet

But, in provinces in the northern region, the use of bronze and cowbells are the best when it comes to chasing away the evil eye.

Puerto Rico

In some areas of Puerto Rico, people believe that babies can receive protection from the evil eye when they wear something with an azabache. Azabache is a jet black onyx gemstone often combined with a black or red coral charm to offer Mal de Ojo protection.

A widely accepted Mal de Ojo treatment is wearing amulets with an evil eye. These can be bracelets or charm necklaces.

Treating Mal de Ojo symptoms in babies according to Mayan folk medicine

Before we discuss the Mayan treatment of Mal de Ojo, it’s important to understand how Mal de Ojo is seen in their culture.

According to the Mayan culture, Mal de Ojo commonly affects young children because they are younger and weaker. Their natural predisposition doesn’t give them enough protection from negative energy. They are yet to develop resilience to repel them.

Based on this belief, babies and young children can get sick just by receiving a glimpse or even when they get in contact with a person with negative energy.

Some examples would be:

  • A drunk person looking at the child
  • A person with an overheated body touching the child
  • An individual with a mal aire (bad air) from outside brings it home and transfers it to the child
  • A person coming from the cemetery who hasn’t bathed touches the child
  • A pregnant woman coos on a baby without blessing them first

There are different treatment options to rid the baby of the Mal de Ojo symptoms. 

Using a red string bracelet

In the Yucatan Peninsula, the go-to treatment would be tying a red string bracelet on the right wrist of the baby. The red string bracelets should be kept in place until they are old enough to fight off the negative energy. The use of red is important. It is an intense color that attracts negative energy, so it doesn’t affect the child.

A collection of evil eye red string bracelet

Some regions would take it a notch higher by placing a seed called el Ojo de Venado. This seed will be sewn into the string. When the seed color changes from light to dark brown, it needs a replacement because it’s no longer potent protection.

A photo of deer eye seedsimage source

Wearing inside-out underwear

Some believe that wearing underwear inside out can help protect children from witchcraft and other bad intentions.

Placing of cross signs

Another common Mal de Ojo treatment is warding off evil spirits and negative energy by placing two machetes or shoes forming a cross.

Cross on top of a mountain cliffimage source:

According to traditional Mayan belief, determining if the child has Mal de Ojo is critical. Mayan doctors (curandero/curandera) would typically roll an uncracked Mal de Ojo egg on the baby’s body.

Afterward, they will break the egg in water and alcohol and see how it reacts. If the egg reaction is “positive,” they will concoct different herbs and medicinal plants to rid the child of the bad air.

What is Mal de Ojo egg?

What would a Mal de Ojo egg look like?

Eggs ready for use to check Mal de Ojoimage source:

When cracked on water, a Mal de Ojo egg would have discolorations in the yolk. The surrounding would have bubbles, strands, and a cloudy appearance. Some would have strands clinging to the edge of the glass, resembling a spider web.

How to protect yourself from Mal de Ojo symptoms

There are a bunch of ways how to protect yourself from evil eye symptoms, let’s tackle some of them.

Evil eye symptoms can be tricky to identify, especially in areas where cultural influence is not that prevalent. Knowing the protection that works best against evil eye symptoms is often the best option.

Prayers and incantations

Some traditions use the power of chants and prayers to ward off the evil eye curse. This practice is widely applicable across different religions and cultures. You can research a Mal de Ojo prayer in English and use it regularly.

In the bible, there are over 30 Psalms that serve as evil eye protection that helps fight against dark energies and evil intentions.

"A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him. Proverbs 28:22"


Egg cleanse

Hand of a woman holding a limpiaimage source:

An egg cleanses or a spiritual limpias is an ancient ritual that also helps drive away the curse of the evil eye. The uncooked egg absorbs the negative energy during the ritual. The egg will then be kept in a glass of water until the person with Mal de Ojo feels better.

Spiritual amulets

Fighting off negative power is also possible by wearing a protection amulet or talisman. These accessories serve as a shield to block off evil intentions and malicious gaze. Some items to use can include:

Evil eye charm on a red string

The combination of a red string with a powerful evil eye charm can help ward off malicious gaze. It can also protect against negative energy.

Evil eye with hamsa hand

A woman wearing a bejeweled hamsa necklace as a protection

The hamsa hand with an evil eye can serve as an evil eye of protection. It can repeal the evil eye of others while protecting the wearer.

Religious cross accessory

Displaying a cross as a symbol of faith can also help ward off malicious intent. It can be a bejeweled bracelet or a necklace.

A woman wearing a bejeweled cross bracelet

If you want a more subtle way to use spiritual amulets, you can choose to wear them as rings or earrings. Explore our evil eye collection to choose spiritual accessories that match your style.

These are just some of the ways you can protect yourself from Mal de Ojo.

There’s nothing wrong with believing in these old traditions, especially since the treatments don’t need much effort. But, it’s important to note that these superstitions and beliefs should not be chosen over medical advice.

Explore our blog and spiritual collections to learn more about Mal de Ojo.